Jack Kerouac Would Have Been An Inspirational Photographer.


Not everybody knows that Jack Kerouac was an accomplished American novelist and poet. Generally associated with the “Beat” generation of the 1950’s, I’m writing about him here because his work was driven by his insatiable curiosity. He wrote about Catholicism and spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty and importantly….travel. Indeed, one of his most important works, titled On The Road, was a spontaneous description of Kerouac’s road-trip adventures across the United States and Mexico. And it tells a fascinating story of humanity that memorializes an important part of our history and cultural evolution. Like Jack Kerouac…I am inspired to photograph humanity, past and present, to document and preserve the things we’ve built, the emotions we share, and to tell stories that inform others about the journey we call life.

1.  What are you curious about?

Every one of us needs to find our own inspiration.  Without it, we have no filter to truly appreciate the things we see and want to photograph. Some photographers are fascinated with human suffering, intimacy, achievement, celebrations and such.  Others are mesmerized by architectural intricacy or innovation.  Many are driven to document nature, the oceans, lakes, rivers, stars, flowers, animals, and other elements. Regardless of what you’re interested in, I embrace the reality that my interests drive my perspective about the things I see. For example, I was on my own road trip from Las Vegas to Los Angeles when I decided to take a detour and explore an old highway. I discovered lots of interesting and fascinating historical reminders of another time and way of life, like my photograph of the long-abandoned Roy’s Motel and Café. It’s just one of several images I shot in the Mojave Desert along Route 66 in Amboy, California. The photos tell the story of a bygone era.

2.  Time is a photographer’s best friend.

So without curiosity or inspiration, we have no motivation. But it’s also true that curiosity is nothing without time to indulge it. That’s why I subscribe to the notion I must control my own time instead of allowing life’s chores and responsibilities dictate my schedule. Great photography takes time for discovery; to determine the story you want to tell about the object you’re about to shoot. It takes time to experiment with and test different framing, angles, exposures and lighting. Allowing time to indulge your work is not frivolous.  It provides you an opportunity to define your art.

In the end, I come back to the legacy of Jack Kerouac. He followed his passion.  Through his writing, he provided a glimpse into a segment of society and human behavior that perhaps many of us would not otherwise have known about. He left us with a treasured history upon which we can reflect and inform our choices for the future.  Was this his purpose?  Was he just chronicling his life?  I don’t know. But I admire him and appreciate the lessons of his experience.

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