LA to Texas, August


Double-exposure by my oldest boy, Pilot, with his Canon AE-1 and the amazing Fujicolor C200

The last time he and I were on the road together with film cameras was when he was about 6 or 7, from Portland to Los Angeles

He had a point-and-shoot camera and made some great pictures, which I still have. One of the many beautiful things about film - it's for life

He'd go on to photograph here and there over the years that followed, but now, at thirteen, he's hooked, and he's got a nice little arsenal of cameras

Really proud of him for his dedication, and for seeing film not just as something that 'used to be,' but as something that just is

It's important that my kids are exposed to as many things as possible, from then and now, and, importantly, to understood that just because something is new, it doesn't necessarily mean it's better

They of course have access to iPods and iPads and such, but they also have access to film cameras, and vinyl records, and reading is certainly encouraged. As is writing, by hand, on paper. When my kids visit my photo office, without fail each of them asks if they can type something on my Smith Corona. They're fascinated by the old contraption. But they don't look upon it as being strange or out of place

On the road, Pilot spent his time in the passenger seat of the old car writing in his journal, or napping, and making film photographs of the passing landscapes out the window 

Proud of him, too, for wanting to write about the trip, and for staying as dedicated to that throughout as he was to exposing film  

We stopped often to make photographs, and he even ran the Bolex 16mm camera a few times, using the handheld light meter and asking questions. And then he'd journal about it 

We took the usual Highway 40 / Route 66, but instead of going up to Barstow and then the 40 across from there, or Joshua Tree up to the 40, we opted for the 10 and then northeast along the 60 and up to Seligman, Arizona to eat at Westside Lilo's Cafe, a favorite eatery of mine

To be a tour guide for my teenaged son, who is now as interested in film as much as I am, was really special

I couldn't shut up the whole time as he'd just sit and listen, ask questions, and then open up his journal and write  

Was a treat pointing out this or that that I'd photographed before. And he was nothing short of excited. To be able to share something like that with my boy is pretty incredible (it's been important to me over the years to establish true kinship with my kids, and that it's happening with my oldest in this way makes me a happy man)

And to see how the things I've photographed over time have changed - the old abandoned gas station in Seligman, with its old lights still standing, now overgrown and becoming enveloped by the earth around it

Photographed it again. I think I do each time I'm in Seligman  

Tucumcari is always nice to roll into, too. For how 'rundown' it is, like many of these small towns that were once thriving, it seems uniquely a bit more awake. Content. Less touristy perhaps than a Seligman, and so maybe, as a result, a bit more interesting, and even cinematic. Can't put my finger on it, but something cinematic about it. Maybe it's just a good example of something I've seen represented in a film somewhere. The kind of film that makes you want to roam, and be there

It's always amazing to revisit places and things I've photographed over the years and remembering those times

I haven't revisited much from the early California photo road trips (written about in this section), but I plan to, and again with the old 8x10 camera and what useable 8x10 Polaroid film I have left  

Maybe next year  

Maybe I'll bring my son on one of those trips, too. Maybe the other older kids, too - they're getting big enough, and they certainly understand what their dad loves to do and have little film cameras of their own

It'll be nice to see Highway 395 in California again, and Highway 1 up near Salinas - love it up there. And California feels much different than the Southwest. It's nice to spread out and feel and document the differences in locations. Different feelings, experiences, but at the same time, so much of it feels the same - America is pretty beautifully uniform in many ways, but with enough differences as you move around to keep it interesting, and with that ever-changing sense of newness with each new place explored 

But for now, back to Los Angeles later this month to continue working on the 16mm road trip / skateboarding film 


Jason Lee2 Comments