12 items found
- Latest Newsletter...
My latest newsletter is hot off the digital presses... Enjoy!
The trip of a lifetime to undiscovered country... There are no longer any barriers to running next January's Namibia photo tour, following this week's announcement by the UK Govt. that they are scrapping the Red List Covid restrictions. In thirty plus years of travelling with my camera there have been just a handful of countries that I have visited that immediately gripped my imagination and fired my creativity. Namibia probably ties for first place on that list (you'll have to wait to find out which country it ties with!). As well as visiting its most famous sights, this tour will take participants to some rarely visited parts of this starkly beautiful country, providing photographers with some exclusive and exceptional opportunities. This really is the trip of a lifetime and I can hardly wait to share my passion for these places with my fellow travellers!
- '22 Update...
New tours and workshops added... I am very pleased to announce that, due to high demand, I have added a new Iceland in Winter workshop, co-led by Daniel Bergmann, in early February next year. We will be visiting some well-known locations but concentrating on seeing them in a different way. Daniel also has some new surprises up his sleeve... I've just got back from a very successful Norway in autumn tour, based in Senja. We had wonderful still conditions and some sublime light. We have booked the same accommodation for next year as it is an ideal place for exploring the north coast, with some superb woodland right on the doorstep. You can find full details here. Finally, I am making final preparations for next year's Picos de Europa tour. This is one of my favourite regions of Spain with medieval villages amidst majestic mountain scenery. The tour includes a breathtaking 4x4 safari along roads closed to the public. Full details will be released soon...
- Autumn is Coming...
I've just returned from two weeks in Arctic Norway, visiting the islands of Kvaløya and Senja. Autumn arrives early this far north of the Arctic Circle and in my opinion the foliage colours here are amongst the finest anywhere in the world. I'm still sorting through my images but have uploaded a few, starting with a beautiful birch bark curl. Hit the cross to go back to the Latest Gallery page so you can scroll through the first eight. I hope you and my other subscriber enjoy them!
- Acquisitions & Inquisitions
The second part of my mini-series on different approaches to making photographs has just been published in On Landscape. Do You Work in Acquisitions?, part one of the series, is free to read but I'm afraid you will need to pay a subscription to access Nobody Expects the Inquisition. On Landscape is an amazing resource for photographers interested in landscape with some excellent writing from the likes of Guy Tal and Joe Cornish as well as some wonderful, thought provoking images. Hopefully "...Acquisitions" will persuade you that it's worth subscribing!
- I'm on The Telly... Sort of!
Alister Benn has just published part one of his interview with me on his Vision & Light YouTube channel. We had a really interesting chat, touching on many different aspects of the life creative. Enjoy! P.S. Part two will be published on Wednesday 8th September, 2021.
- The 3 Ages of a Photographer
Why entering a second childhood is good for your photography... In “As You Like It”, William Shakespeare proposed seven ages of man; from infant through schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice and “pantaloon” to second childhood, "sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything". I’d like to propose a somewhat more modest three ages of a photographer. I’m afraid that my version won’t be presented in iambic pentameter! But, you’ll no doubt be relieved to know that my version of the final state doesn’t involve the loss of either appendages or faculties. Here goes… Novice We can probably all remember the eager state we felt when we first became interested in photography; we pored over every article on technique and read every description of new gear. We wanted to accumulate every morsel of knowledge we came across and work out how to apply it in the best possible way. But this isn’t like cramming for an exam, this is play and playing is (contrary to what some people may tell you!) one of the most important and rewarding things that you can do with your life. A Zen maxim has it that we should, ‘Develop an infallible technique, then put ourselves at the mercy of inspiration.’ This early period of informal, avid study lays the foundations of craft for later creative exploration. But it’s not all positive; there will inevitably be growing pains as setbacks often accompany our advances in technique and creativity. We may also realise, as we learn more, how much there is left to learn. And this can be more than a little daunting. Journeyman This is the age of experience. You’ve served your apprenticeship; you’ve reached a certain level of technical and compositional competence (it’s been a while since you really screwed up an exposure or had serious trouble working out how you wanted to approach a subject). Some might even feel a little smug at this stage; you can do this and what’s more you’ve got the awards/recognition of your peers to prove it. Many photographers don’t age beyond this point, you might say that they stay put in cosy middle age. It’s easy to see why. All the angst that you suffered learning your craft is in the past. You’ve developed a set of strategies for making images that broadly give good results. No, you won’t always make a masterpiece. But the images are generally pretty good. All those years of study have paid off and you feel comfortable with your work. You feel that this is it; you’ve become a photographer at last. But this is the most dangerous age for a creative photographer. Standing still isn’t an option if you want to grow creatively and not growing should never be an option. Ironically, to grow I think that one needs to return to childhood. Second childhood Play is one of the greatest joys of childhood, but it needn’t stop there, and it needn’t be child’s play. When Plato said, “Life must be lived as play.” he didn’t mean that we should treat our allotted time as a bit of a lark. He meant that we should approach every activity with joy, enthusiasm and the willingness to learn and experiment with which we inevitably set about the activity of play. According to musician, author and educator Stephen Nachmanovitch, play is the root and foundation of creativity in the arts and sciences: "…all creative acts are forms of play, the starting place of creativity" Great photographers never stop playing with the medium and many have written about the advantages of adopting childlike wonder at our world. The American photographer Minor White felt that it was important “…to see as an adult sees who has gone full circle and once again sees as a child - with freshness and an even deeper sense of wonder.” Bill Brandt wrote that, “It is part of the photographer’s job to see more intensely than most people do. He must have and keep in him something of the receptiveness of the child who looks at the world for the first time or of the traveller who enters a strange country.” Brandt ably demonstrated this attitude in both his nudes and his landscape work. Blessed with this attitude the French photographer Jaques Henri Lartigue (who started taking photographs when he was just seven) continued making surprising and quirky images, like the one above, well into his ninth decade. My own three ages… My novice period was quite prolonged, stretching from my first camera (a Kodak Instamatic at eleven years of age) right through to five years after I graduated. This included using my dad’s fold out 6x6 camera at sixteen, making my first B/W print at eighteen, three years at college and another three years as a photographer’s assistant. All that time was spent learning enough to simply be able to realise my artistic aims. Once I began getting commissioned work, there was always the fear that the next job might not go as well as I wanted it to. I still have dreams where I’ve turned up for a job without my film, or too late, or without a camera! Such anxiety meant that it didn’t immediately dawn on me that I had entered my journeyman phase. But one day I realised that it had been a few years since I’d messed up an editorial commission. There was, naturally some relief in this. Gradually I grew in confidence and worried less. Although, the fact that I still have those dreams means that a fear of failure is still deep rooted in me, like people who have nightmares about turning up for an interview naked. Thank goodness that’s never happened to me… yet! After almost a decade as a “professional” I realised that the demands of earning a living as a photographer had mostly beaten the cra… creativity out of me. I was bored with taking pictures for commissions and eager to begin making images for me. Of course, the economic reality of trying to provide for a young family and pay a mortgage made this seem like an impossible choice. I was fortunate to be offered the chance to work as a photographic tutor in what was then the very new field of photographic tours and workshops. This alternate income gave me the opportunity to begin to play with my camera again. It’s not the fear of being unable to put bread on the table that stops the majority of photographers from being more creative. Rather, it’s peer pressure that holds them back. Camera clubs and social media tend to have a normative effect that subtly discourages experimentation. Whichever way you look at it, expectations are the biggest reason photographers don’t enter their second childhood. We either want to meet other people’s presuppositions or we’re happy with our own idea of what constitutes a good photo. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with simple contentment, there is, I think, something sad about trying to match other people’s ideas of what constitutes a good photo. Of course, it’s scary to leave the comfortable “doing alright”, “accomplished” zone because we know that when we enter uncharted territory misteps are bound to happen. But leaving my journeyman phase and marching gladly into my second childhood was the best thing that had happened to me as a photographer since I left college. I would never have made images like the one at the beginning of this article - or this one from Lindisfarne - if I had stayed in my comfort zone. As I have written elsewhere, I have made many more unsuccessful images in this phase than as a journeyman. But I don’t worry about that. Fearless experimentation is the way forward. Armed with the skills we acquired as “novices” and the experience we acquired as “journeymen”, our second childhood as photographers will be the age in which we make the most interesting images. So, go on, regress a little; become a child again!
- A Sense of Wonder
“... amazement at subject matter [is why I started to photograph].” Edward Weston A sense of wonder was certainly what motivated me to become a photographer but there are many kinds of wonder. Initially, for me, it was wonderment at process. Arthur C Clarke once wrote that, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” I certainly felt in the presence of magical forces whilst making my first black and white print. Standing in a darkroom, illuminated by the otherworldly glow of a red safe light, I watched with fascination and increasing excitement as the image bloomed on the surface of the blank sheet in the development tray. I feel a little sad for photographers who have only ever seen a print regurgitated, laboriously by an inkjet printer. All the magic that I felt is missing. A new wonder arose when I started using transparency film. But before I could get a chance to wonder at any individual transparency I had to contend with delayed gratification. There were none of the reassurances that digital photography now supplies; no histogram to confirm that I hadn’t made a huge exposure error nor thumbnail image to affirm or repudiate my compositional choices. At a minimum it would be hours before the freshly processed sheet was in my hand. Quite often it was weeks. As quickly as I could get it there, the transparency would be upon the lightbox and I would be using a loupe to examine every square centimetre in detail. If, when I made the image, everything had worked as it should then this was one of the most wonderful experiences in photography. The pristine beauty of a sheet of Velvia is incredible. An image produced with transmitted light has a vibrancy and depth that can never be matched by a print. For me, the transparency was the finished product; I needed no further verification or justification of my choices. There was no need to print it or publish it. I was done, my photographic desire satiated. I miss those moments. In thirty years as a photographer, the way I make images has changed dramatically. The quiet, deliberate ritual using a 5x4 view camera has gone, replaced by a faster, more reflective process with a digital mirrorless camera. Unlike a transparency, the digital image arrives incomplete. It is, in Ansel Adam’s terms, more akin to a negative; it represents a score which requires a performance to bring it to life. In Ansel’s era the performance took place in the darkroom; in the current era it’s more likely to be in Lightroom. Whatever the process, my feeling of astonishment when I behold a new, satisfying image has not dimmed. Even before I began photographing using transparency film I became fascinated with the difference between how I see and how the camera sees. This realm of wonder seems endless. Wonder at subject gradually overtook my wonder at process. However wondrous, process is only a foundation. It is, after all, the content of the images that we should pay the most attention to. Content and technique are intertwined in a symbiotic relationship. But a fascination in the process or attendant technology alone will never lead to images that intrigue, surprise or make an audience’s heart beat faster. I often tell my students that no one ever wept simply because a photo was perfectly sharp or perfectly exposed. You might stand in front of one of your images and weep because it isn’t, but that’s quite a different story. Rather than perfect rendering, moving the viewer should be the highest ambition of every photographer. Perhaps we are led astray by the manufacturers’ constant enticements to acquire their latest offerings. Be it hardware or software, there is a tendency amongst some photographers to place too high a value on equipment or technique. The quality of these matter little if the resulting images lack emotion, depth or subtlety. One need only think of Robert Capa’s famous photographs from the D-Day landings to realise that quality in a photograph is about so much more than sharpness, resolution, accurate colour rendition or any one of a hundred other attributes that we are constantly being told are paramount. In one sense the photographic process failed Capa; working in low light he push-processed the film resulting in very grainy images. Most are also not sharp; it’s hard to stand perfectly still in pounding surf whilst bullets scream past your ears. In fact the few crisply focused frames seem lacking in energy and drama. Yet the images speak powerfully to us, both because and in spite of their technical failings. The chaos and fear of battle is expressed in the very grain of each snatched and blurry frame, in a way that would never be possible with perfectly exposed and sharp images. The all too few frames move us because we can imagine ourselves in the photographer’s shoes. What matters in these images is the perfect synergy of content and the visual language used to express it. I’m not for one moment suggesting that technique doesn’t matter, rather that it is of little importance if it doesn’t support the content of the photograph. One of the great joys that photography has brought me is that it has opened my eyes to the world around me in a way that I doubt would have happened otherwise. Landscape has provided the cloth from which I have tailored my images. I don’t think Weston meant wonder simply at the object photographed. The subject of a great photograph is rarely that which is baldly delineated by light on a photographic emulsion or a sensor plane. It matters little, however, what we photograph. What is important is that we should be at least as passionate, if not more passionate, about our subject than we are about the photographic process. We need to find wonder anew in even the smallest detail each time we make an image. If this balance isn’t achieved we are unlikely to produce images that speak of more than superficial aesthetic concerns. My aim is to make images with my subject not of my subject. The places where I make photographs fill me with wonder and inspire me to form an understanding of them, however imperfect. I try to express those complementary feelings through my images and hopefully enlighten and amaze the viewer. Just making a technically good, classically composed image isn’t enough. Photography has the ability to transcend its subject, to do so much more than just make aesthetically pleasing illustrations. Powerful images distil something of the wonder we find in the world and this is what keeps me amazed after thirty years of collecting light and time.
- From Peak to Shining Peak...
In the dim, though not so distant, past I used to make images using a 35mm film camera and I would feel content if around one image in six was good. Let’s not get the wrong idea here; I’m not referring to photographs that were wildly exciting or career changing or, heaven forbid, life changing. I’m not even referring to what Ansel Adams called epiphanies. Sadly, the vast majority of these images didn’t provide me with sudden revelations or insights. These “good” images simply met my general level of expectation; they were well exposed, reasonably sharp and passably well composed. The real beauties only came along rarely and I think Ansel’s estimate of a dozen such images a year is still pretty accurate. It’s tempting to think (especially in this digital age) that the only reason Ansel had so few “stonkers” was because producing each image was such a faff. Obviously making a photograph with a large format camera isn’t like using a modern DSLR; there’s no built in meter or autofocus for a start. And when using a 10x8 the process normally proceeds at a stately pace and in an almost ritualistic fashion. But I don’t think that there’s a strong correlation between high production rate and the creation of a large number of great images - though there is a good argument for regular practice benefiting the quality of our work. If it were a simple matter of numbers we would surely have seen a huge upsurge in amazing photography in the last ten years. Unfortunately, the reverse seems to be the case, with websites drowning us in a deluge of mediocre imagery. In my early twenties I started making images regularly on a 5x4. This move coincided with my hit rate increasing significantly from the one in six I mentioned earlier to around six out of ten. For the mathematically challenged (and I had to get a calculator to work this out!) that’s an increase of over 43% from 16.66% to 60%. Of course, 68.7% of all statistics are made up… And this figure is hardly the result of rigorous analysis. But surely, I reasoned, such a big change must be significant. Might it even be a sign that - at the advanced age of 23 - I’d finally become a photographer? This conclusion is clearly of dubious worth - not least because I was acting as arbiter of my own success in a field that is notorious for not having any fixed criteria to use as benchmarks. Over the intervening decades I noticed what I took to be a worrying trend. My hit rate of good images has steadily and significantly fallen, to perhaps as low as 20%. For someone who only made a total of around 300 5x4 images in a good year, this drop was particularly distressing. Sixty good images seemed such a paltry number compared to one hundred and eighty. And now I’ve entered the digital age - not an easy transition for someone more in tune with a slower pace of life – and I still find myself making fewer images than most of my peers. The potential to make thousands of images in a day has, for me, been a disincentive to do so. That’s not just a sign of me being a contrarian. Partly it’s that I don’t actually see that many possibilities. Partly it’s that I believe it’s best to take my time. Indeed I have deliberately eschewed such speed advantages as auto focus. Instead, I use manual focus lenses on a tilt/shift adaptor. Obviously, there are times (such as shooting sports or wildlife) when continuous shooting increases your chance of success. But the landscape rarely changes fast enough to warrant making more than a handful of exposures an hour. What does change is our relationship to it. As we become more in tune with a place or an idea we see new possibilities. This evolution necessarily means that we rarely get the shot at our first attempt. But I digress… The encouraging news is that I feel my best images are still an improvement over my previous efforts. But the question remains, why have I become a less productive photographer? Might it simply be that over forty years I have, both in terms of art and craft, become pickier? That’s certainly a large part of the reason for the change. It’s natural that one becomes more critical of the finished images. But surely this critical faculty should also mean that one made fewer mistakes and more winners? If this were true, with enough practice, we should all get to a stage where every image is a winner. There are a few reasons why I feel this doesn’t happen. Firstly, as touched upon above, there’s the question of timing. I used to know a photographer who referred to days when you never seemed to be in quite the right place as being rich in fifteen minute weather. Walking across the landscape you might spy the possibility for a photograph some way off but by the time you get there the cloud has gone or the sun passed behind a hill. Similarly, you might walk past something and then glance back a while later to see it bathed in glorious light. In landscape photography, and many other genres, opportunity and timing are key. Missing that decisive moment is maddening but also to some extent inevitable. Planning may reduce the chances of “failure” but can never completely eliminate it. Of course the way to get around this is to make lemonade (otherwise known as adapting to circumstances). Secondly, the process of distilling an image is actually a very complex one. I have written elsewhere of my belief that making a photograph involves solving a very complicated multi-dimensional and multi-faceted puzzle. To further complicate matters, there is no single correct answer to the puzzle. Some images may be felt to be better than others. But, because of the medium’s inherent subjectivity, what appeals to me most is not necessarily the image that an audience will find the most appealing. Of course, we’re also standing on the shifting sands of time and last year’s favourite image might fall from favour at any moment. Finally, and most importantly, I feel we need to fail in order to succeed. Whilst searching for a solution most people sketch with the camera. Each test image might be considered a partial failure but each teaches us something more about how to solve the problem at hand. I now picture image making as a journey across a landscape of the mind. In this analogy, winning images are particularly fine views from high peaks. From every summit we attain we can see other, distant and indistinct - but perhaps loftier - prominences. In order to reach them we must lose height and drop into a cloud-shrouded, swampy hinterland. The route to those new mountains lies hidden. The less successful images that we make belong to this region, where we’re unsure of the way ahead and may get mired in irrelevances. But, though the images we make on this portion of the journey are less satisfying, they are no less important. The crucial fact is that we can only reach the mountaintops by traversing this lower landscape. So, every image - no matter how humble - is a necessary step on the journey from one shining peak to another. It might even let you make the leap from true mountains to a shining peak of the mind.
- The Ghosts of Broken Dreams
As people returned home from the Second World War, and world economies recovered, it was boom time in the USA. Americans became a nation of travellers, and Route 66 was the chosen road for many. Restaurants and motels, gas stations and drive-in theatres were the backdrop for a road populated by thousands of fine motor vehicles. As traffic increased so small towns prospered. Maclean TX, for instance, once boasted dozens of motels and numerous gas stations. Visitors poured through every day, stopping to refuel, to buy food or to find a bed for the night. And with each stop they brought vitality. Now the heart of this small town is dead. The cinema and most of the shops are closed and boarded up. The only place to buy food is in the one remaining gas station. A constant stream of semis now bypass the town on Interstate 40. Hardly anyone pulls off the highway, except perhaps to visit the Devil's Rope Museum. Money flows past, along with the traffic. And no money means that the jobs have gone too; jobs in hospitality, jobs in gas stations, jobs in retail. The town's aspirations have desiccated in the southern sun. You need look no further for the roots of the discontent that brought Trump to power. The prosperity that small town America enjoyed from the Fifties through to the early Eighties has slowly faded. The world has moved on. It's not just I40 that bypasses these towns, the information superhighway does too. From 1926 through to the mid Seventies, Route 66 wasn't just another road: the ‘Mother Road’ epitomised the American Dream. The 2400 miles of ‘blacktop’ linking Chicago, Illinois with Los Angeles, California, was a national icon in the post war years. It was the inspiration for architects, for writers, for movies and, inevitably, for a television series. Most obviously it was an inspiration for popular music. Bobby Troup's anthem of the road became a chart success for many bands, including Chuck Berry and The Rolling Stones. Well if you ever plan to motor west Just take my way that's the highway that's the best Get your kicks on Route 66 Well it winds from Chicago to L.A. More than 2000 miles all the way Get your kicks on Route 66 Well goes from St. Louie down to Missouri Oklahoma city looks oh so pretty You'll see Amarillo and Gallup, New Mexico Flagstaff, Arizona don't forget Winona Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino Would you get hip to this kindly tip And go take that California trip Get your kicks on Route 66 During the Great Depression '66 was an escape route from the collapsed economies of the eastern industrial cities to California's "Promised Land". It was also the route Okies took to flee their debts and the Dustbowl. As such it featured as a backdrop to the photographs of Dorothea Lange and as the stage for John Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath. The fictional Joads and thousands of real life Okies were certain that Route 66 was the road to economic salvation. What they found in California didn't live up to the billing. Large landowners oversaw a corrupt labour market and used local deputies as muscle to enforce their wishes. The great folk song writer Woody Guthrie immortalised the reality in his ballad Do Re Mi: Lots of folks back East, they say, is leavin' home every day Beatin' the hot old dusty way to the California line 'Cross the desert sands they roll, gettin' out of that old dust bowl They think they're goin' to a sugar bowl but here's what they find Now the police at the port of entry say "You're number fourteen thousand for today" Oh, if you ain't got the do re mi folks you ain't got the do re mi Why you better go back to beautiful Texas Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see But believe it or not you won't find it so hot If you ain't got the do re mi Post World War II '66 became a superhighway that sleek cars - Buicks, Dodges and Cadillacs, adorned with jet-age fins - took toward a bright new future. To millions it was a symbol of the spirit that made America great. Just climb in your Studebaker, your De Soto or your Packard, put the pedal to the metal and somewhere toward the setting sun the Highway would inevitably lead you to your fortune. The individual was capable of anything. With imagination, resourcefulness and above all enterprise you would succeed. No ifs, no buts. You might even be able to eat a 72 ounce steak in Amarillo. Success there would prove there was such a thing as a free meal. If anything was possible for the individual then why not for architecture? Just outside Amarillo, ten Cadillacs stand semi erect; their trunks point toward the sky whilst their hoods are submerged in a farmers field, like divers reentering the ocean. In the desert on the eastern edge of California, one man has built a forest from discarded bottles... The wide open spaces that surrounded the highway provided plenty of room for architectural eccentricities: room for a 66 foot tall neon Coke bottle, room for the Leaning Tower of Britten TX, room for fifteen metre high plastic dinosaurs in Holbrook AZ and room for a chain of concrete wigwam motels. Unlike the chrome adornments on 1950's American cars, by the 1990's the Dream had sadly lost it shine. Its relics now lie rusted and broken along the Route, slowly decaying in the dry air. In some cases whole towns teeter on the edge of extinction. It's rare in most of Britain to come across so many abandoned structures. In a crowded country like ours every parcel of land has value. But there are places in the western States where people just walked out of a house they owned, leaving the keys behind. Whoever lent for the mortgage wrote it off, no one redeveloped these properties. I'm always moved by these vestiges of a life abandoned. In Seligman AZ I came across a wooden house on the edge of town. A red Christmas stocking, faded by the desert sun, was hanging from a nail to the left of the door. Peering through the dust-grimed windows I could just make out a couch, table and chairs in the living room. Above it all, Christmas decorations were pinned to the walls and ceiling. What disaster befell this family? What made them leave their home in such haste, without even the time or inclination to pack away the decorations? Was it economic or did a family member become gravely ill? In the USA these two disasters can become one. The myth of endless possibilities for the individual is still widely used in the USA to excuse inequalities: "Look the other way, that injustice is a small matter because you live in a land where anyone can become President." Unfortunately "anyone" only encompasses those who have millions of dollars at their disposal. Not everyone has just up and left. Witnesses to the upheavals of the past seventy five years can still be found. One day in July 1945, when Archie Lewis was nine years old, he and his father were travelling across the south of New Mexico. They were going to collect a car. Not far from Socorro they came upon a military roadblock and were detained overnight. They had unwittingly stumbled upon the perimeter of the test site for the first atomic bomb, Thin Man. In the early hours of July 16th Archie and his father witnessed the very first atomic explosion. He was literally at Ground Zero for the atomic age. A few miles away the man in charge of the Manhattan Project, Robert Oppenheimer, watched the first atomic mushroom cloud rise into the dawn light and said "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds". But what started as a terrifying weapon of mass destruction also became a beacon of hope in the post war years. Despite the Cold War gloom, nuclear power was held out as a harbinger of a brighter future. Harnessing the atom held the promise of limitless, almost free power. (As it turned out a promise that was never fulfilled). Turning the nuclear threat into a possible nuclear salvation was just one expression of an almost unbridled optimism: post Depression, post World War optimism; optimism about the US economy; optimism about science; optimism about an inevitably brighter future. What an incredible era Archie has witnessed. He saw European fascism and Japanese imperialism vanquished by the Allies. During his lifetime America, newly emerged in the 1940's from isolationism, has taken a commanding position on the world stage, both economically and militarily. He was carried along as America fast forwarded into a succession of new ages; the age of the automobile, the atomic age, the jet age, the space age and the internet age. Nothing has stood still. Archie grew up along with, and alongside, the Mother Road. He witnessed the boom in travellers and profited from it by running a vehicle recovery and repair company. These were decades of hopefulness. Everything was bigger and better and faster and cheaper than what had gone before. The exuberance of motor car design in this period epitomised the spirit of post war America. Faith in the future was made solid in every bright chrome trim and every jet inspired fin. Archie began collecting vehicles at nine years old. Some were paid for, some were taken in lieu of towing fees, some were given to him for free. In over seventy years he has gathered over seven hundred cars and trucks on his lot outside Albuquerque. It's a veritable encyclopaedia of American automotive art. You can chart how the motor industry has evolved from Model T to AMC Pacer and beyond. When I last saw him, in 2015, he was doing what he does most days, sitting in his barber's chair at Lewis' Toy and Motor Museum with his faithful dog Levi* at his feet. Now in his eighties, he holds court with whoever comes to see his vehicles. The stories he tells are fascinating. There's very little he doesn't know about the history of the marques represented in his lot. It's evident that his enthusiasm for motor vehicles is undiminished. Some might call him a dinosaur. I prefer to think of him as an incredible living link to the past and someone in whom America's post war spark of optimism still burns. In 1956 the Interstate Highway Act signalled the beginning of the end for Historic Route 66. Gradually, Interstate 40 replaced '66 between Oklahoma City and Los Angeles. The divided highway bypassed small towns. Cars became more comfortable and capable of longer drives between refuelling. People no longer felt the need to pull off and stretch their legs. A quick stop at a gas station on I40 and a takeaway burger with a 72ounce Coke would keep you going for a few more hours. Or even better, why not hop on a plane and hire a car at your destination. Sadly, the last seventy years have shown many of the mid century hopes that symbolised the American Dream to be a mirage. A scant few have been fully realised, many more have been hijacked. Main St. America has consistently lost out to the rising power of the corporations. The working man had more disposable income in the post war years and he used it to purchase consumer goods, from washing machines to refrigerators to cars. So, ironically, the wealth that once routinely circulated through these places helped build those corporations power. Some people might be puzzled as to why I, a landscape photographer, find the eccentricities and decay of Route 66 so fascinating. For me the buildings, cars and to some extent the people along the Route represents a lost innocence. Many of the things I have photographed along the Route don't "make sense" to us today. And that is their charm. The faded remnants of those earlier dreams, like a love lost, are potently poignant. This is where I go to search for the ghosts of broken dreams. * Sadly Levi passed away in August last year. Between 2012 and 2015 I made three journeys along part of Route 66, from Oklahoma City to the California border. This article and the gallery below contain some of my favourite images from those journeys. I hope to be able to lead another tour here in 2022.