Leaving and Learning How to Prepare for a Long Trip

What was I thinking?

I left Flint a few days ago to spend the rest of summer in Taos, New Mexico. I love northern New Mexico. I spent time traveling through the area last fall and stayed with my friend Keith in El Prado (just north of Taos and a short hop from the Rio Grande River.) I loved the different geographies and I made some photographs that resonated with me and wanted to return this summer. Keith has a great house that I’m renting, including his darkroom, and I will be able to access vast stretches of rivers, forests, mountains, deserts, and peoples. So, why am I’m so damned stressed? ¬†What I didn’t know was how hard it is to leave for a long photography expedition that also includes setting up a new residence, merging my darkroom practice into that of another photographer, and adjusting to new surroundings, people, weather, and culture. Is my Honda Accord big enough? Am I big enough? Time will tell. As I packed, I was frustrated with my neediness and the desire to bring “comfort” to Taos. What am I afraid of, why should a grown man worry about things like having warm enough clothing for the arid desert nights (or mountains), good enough shoes, cool enough shirts for the scorching hot days, or enough clean underwear (of course he has a laundry closet and I could always go to a launderette)… Of course, none of this has anything to do with making photographs, but it’s a mental game played out to distract me from my real fear — the fear that I might not make any worthwhile¬†work. That’s the scariest prospect of all, one that drives me to drink, to sleep at inappropriate times, and find mindless diversions to whittle away my precious time in New Mexico. But that won’t happen (much, haha), because I’ve given myself the time, space, and permission to go for broke. I’m going to put myself on the line and try to break through all the mental gyrations and theories about photographic images and I’m going to “feel my photographs” with my eyes before opening up the camera case and loading film holders into the back. I know when I feel like I’m looking at an illustration of my life that I’m about to make a good photograph. The photograph I’ll make will melt away all those fears and terrors of the artist and fill my spirits with a comfort that no car or fancy camera case could deliver.