31 Oct Sometimes It’s About The Road Taken To Get There
A few weeks ago I joined back up with the WWU project production team for another day of capturing film and photos. This time, however, our destination lay out in the far reaches of Neah Bay, WA. Being the very most NW tip of the Washington Peninsula, it was a journey to get their for both myself and the rest of the team who are based out of Bellingham. If I remember correctly, it took me between 4 and 5 hours to get there from Tacoma, so when I say “the road taken to get there,” I mean it, it was a long road! Flying solo, it was a peaceful time and very fun towards the end, as the last hour of driving or so was some serious winding road, which my Honda CRZ was more than happy to zip around.
Pulling into Neah Bay, it’s hard to forget how far out you are. There isn’t much out there as far as your usual amenities, and that includes cell phone signal. A single pump gas station and a super small mom ‘n pop grocery store were about the only thing I was able to identify driving down what you’d have to call the “main” street. I have to admit, it was very weird being completely out of cell range for 36 hours. I was fortunate to catch the sunset as I was making my way by the beach front, made some photos. Eventually we all made it to the cabin we rented for the night, which happened to be right on the beach. A great thing about being around other fellow creatives is that they are usually just as passionate about the visual arts as you are, so finding reasons to pull out the ol’ camera for some enthusiastic photos are half a conversation away at all times. It was well after midnight and we had an early morning staring us in the face, but that didn’t stop us from taking a stroll on the beach to take some night photos. No moon and pitch black, it was an ideal environment for some flashlight painting photography. Before long my flash lighting itch became so strong I had to scratch it, so I ran back to the cabin and grabbed a speedlite to give our light painting subjects some more detail. There you have it, 3am and we had five 30-year olds running around at night on the beach with some lights and a camera making silly photos. Somehow when we had to wake up in the early morning it still felt justified, we were laughing the whole time making those photos.
The actual photo assignment was ho-hum, taking photos of students in a science room while they worked with microscopes. In short, the project we were focused on documenting centered around re-educated teachers who then take newly learned instruction skills and then using them in the classroom. Not much to capture, but something that needed to be visually documented. We shot that for a couple classes of students and we wrapped things up, leaving the second half of the day to head home. Well… we thought we were going to get home. I think the lack of sleep was hitting everyone pretty hard on the journey home, and while stopped for lunch at a roadside diner, we started seeking out a location to stay the night. Still West of Port Angeles, we found a place called Lake Crescent, and a state-run resort which rested on the lake’s shoreline. It was an absolute surprise upon arrival, this place was amazing, complete with cool A-frame cabins to rent. The lake was beautiful, super clear water and calm as could be. The only upsetting thing was not discovering this place earlier! Definitely a place I will visit next Summer for a few days. We also found a trail which led us on a pretty cool hike through the woods boarding the lake, and leading us to a really cool bridge and diving/swimming area. I honestly don’t know how I’ve lived in the area my whole life and have never heard of this place.
Waking up the next morning, we found a bunch of ducks greeting us at our backdoor (which was right on the water). The ducks had obviously grown accustom to the visitors who regularly fed them, and they’d walk right up to you. I took advantage of this, and I had Andy toss bread out in the water past my camera so I could get some flying shots. Soon after I made the second leg of my journey home.
Out of the 48 hours I was gone my camera was out and shooting for 12 hours or so, but only 3 hours of that was for the actual job I was hired to do (none of which were spectacular photos). In general, most of my time with a camera in-hand is spent in posed commercial and portrait environments, so it’s a trip like this that lets me be a kid again with photography, spontaneously capturing a road trip like this along the way. You continuously hear people say, “I’d like to experience the moment rather than capture it.” I’d have to disagree. Sure, there will be times where it would be more ideal to be somewhere while not having to take images at the same time, but you are there and experiencing it, plus you have some really fun images. I think the more important thing to point out here is that I couldn’t tell you how many “experiences” I would have never had if it weren’t for my camera. My photography-centered brain is always looking for fun, new, and interesting things to capture. It’s this drive that usually gets me off my ass to go out and experience these things in the first place. My camera is the reason that I will have been sent to Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii, and all over Washington in just the last couple years, dangling my feet out of helicopters, planes, boats, and cars along the way. If that’s not “experiencing” I don’t know what is. I’m so thankful for all of these experiences, and when I do get the opportunity to take some “just for fun” photos in my down time on these trips it’s icing on the cake.