Awhile back, a fellow photographer friend, William Hess and I set sail to the wonderful world known as middle of nowhere central Kansas. Halfway through our travels I realized that I didn’t even have my DSLR camera. All I had was my iPhone. So I took it out from my pocket and used it as my workhorse.
Let me take this time to talk about William Hess. This dude is an insanely hard working fella with some pretty dope work. Along this trip he busted out some janky old film camera that he loves and uses to death, even though he had his Canon Mark II in the backseat. He’s a dude who just wants to make awesome work and I respect that.
If you aren’t showin’ William Hess love, then you are fuckin’ up.
Anyway, back to the story, William Hess and I were on assignment in Hutchinson Kansas doing some commercial architecture work for Alistair Tutton Photography, and on the way back we decided it’d be a good idea to trickle our way through central Kansas through some sketchy and backwoodsy roads on our trek back to our homebase in Kansas City. Anything we saw of interest we stopped. We had tons of expensive gear in the car and though I forgot my personal camera, we definitely weren’t shy of ones capable. But for some odd reason I really didn’t care.
I wanted to make images. And that desire has nothing to do with my camera.
Welcome to Roxbury, we have nothing to say to you.
One of the first stops we made was in Roxbury, Kansas. Population of about 100 people. A charming tiny town with a two door garage fire station comparable to a house and a post office the size of a backyard shack.
Apartment for rent. Big open windows, very airy, serious inquires only.
What surprised me about this abandoned building was that the opposite view on the other side of the street was a string of about five fully occupied homes. It really made me want to figure out what this use to be and why there was just this big gaping hole chillin’ like someone got too lazy to finish bulldozing it.
We left the town of Roxbury and on the road found this path to an old home.
William Hess, hustlin’ as usual.
‘Sup with that ruin porn?
The house was pretty unique. There were shoes on the floor, old wallpaper patches flaking off from the walls, nails and hay everywhere. Things like this just really make me want to find the story behind its history. Who lived there and for how long. What was life like and why is it so dead? It was a surreal moment visualizing life in this home, because it use to be just that, someone’s home and memories.
At this point, I’m surprised I’ve never found a dead body.
After carefully stepping around avoiding the chance to fall through the floor, after pulling a nail that missed my foot out of my shoe, we decided we needed to move on and hit the road home.
Welcome to Infinity, KS
American Bison ≠ Buffalo
At one point, William found some crazy farm that claimed to have bison running around and to our surprise, indeed they were. Both William and I’s first encounter with Bison. I just wish they were closer. Cool to see them out and about nonetheless.
Somewhere along the way, we stumbled across this shanty barn with the KC Royals logo patched to the side. How could you not stop? And alas, the trip was over.
But to sum everything up, I had all the camera choices in the world even after realizing that I had forgotten my own personal arsenal. But I wanted the challenge of making images with whatever I had and what I had was my iPhone. But I soon realized that it had nothing to do with a challenge at all.
Making images about your eye. Fuck everything else.
If you want to make images, go out and start looking and making. Making images has nothing to do with getting hung up on what gear you don’t have. Yes, there does comes a point where there is a standard or resolution or specific use, but I’m not talking about any of that. I’m talking about the desire be a better photographer.
Becoming better as a photographer has nothing to do with what you can or can’t afford or even if you really have a camera or not.
If you’re a shitty cook what good is a bomb-ass stove top going to do you? What good is a commercial airliner going to do you if you don’t even know how to airplane? An amazing guitarist can shred the shit out of some piece of crap out of a child’s acoustic guitar found at walmart.
Screw your camera, show me your compositions.
This whole trip was an iPhone only trip for me and it was actually quite refreshing. It forced me to know how the phone camera works, how it acts, how it reacts, and how my understanding of it could benefit me in my process of looking and composing. It was the tool to help me translate what I saw, and what I see is more important in the broader sense.
Here’s to people who just want to make good imagery.
Here’s to central Kansas being what it is.
Here’s to William Hess, no doubt.