Burning Man 2014 – My 3rd Trip Home

Nothing drives home the ethos of Burning Man and the freedom of the open road with sun shining on your face like returning to the “normal” world and the day job the day that nature decides summer is over and it’s going to dump snow on you. I literally went from hot days with the windows open to sweeping 2 inches of snow from Betty in 24 hours. They say the warm weather is coming back, so we’ll see.

Burning Man was an amazing adventure again. Each year becomes a different experience and it’s own unique journey. This was a year of first for me. The first year I actually arrived and got to set up my tent etc in actual daylight. Arriving at about 5pm on Sunday. Also a first was the severe (albeit fairly short) thunder and lightning storm we got early Monday morning. We got a fairly hefty dumping of rain that turned the dusty playa into a slick layer of mud, thus shutting down all movement for the following few hours as even the exercise of walking across it results in layers of mud sticking to the bottom of one’s shoes to the point that you feel like a member of a dusty low rent version of KISS. Driving comes to a halt, people were stuck waiting it out, some for close to a day. Another first was staying in a camp that actually had a shower. This was an amazing improvement over my previous two years and allowed me to feel a little less like a dusty farm animal a few times during the week. There’s plenty of ways to clean one’s self while camping on the playa but there’s something divine about the ability to rinse the dust off, however briefly it can be sometimes. In addition, the Man himself was not on a platform or pedestal this year. My first year seeing him stand on the ground. That said, he was massive. Apparently also very well made as he took a long time to fall making some burners impatient. For me, the time he took to fall represented tenacity and resilience. Two qualities I like to think I have within myself. I enjoyed waiting it out with him, almost like some sort of challenge in which I accepted. This year was also the first year in which I left something in Temple. An old shirt of my dad’s that I’ve been hanging on to for 19 years was wrapped in a ribbon and a note and let go. Nothing heavy or all that sad, just a message I needed to send, a chapter I needed to close. After placing it in a spot of temple that took forever for me to decide on, I still had a hard time walking away from it. Sitting on a bench in the courtyard watching the spot I had left it for a good hour or so.

My camp this year was fun and all my mates and new friends are awesome. Many new additions to my burner family, all of whom make me feel blessed. This is also the first year (my bad) that I set up and took portraits with the cart within my own camp. It was a blast and I’m so happy to have captured some fun images of some of the people I spent the week with. The art was amazing as usual and of course the energy was undeniable, bigger than ever before, Black Rock City never ceases to blow my mind.

After Burning Man I made my way across the state line into California for another bit of closure. Making it into, exploring, and out of the ghost town of Bodie without incident. As some of you know, I tried getting to Bodie in 2012 but my plans abruptly changed when I hit a large deer, disabling my vehicle. That event really put a downer on my first Burning Man experience but also showed me how incredible my friends and family are because without them I would have been stuck at the time. Continuing on this year I visited Mono Lake, Lake Tahoe, the ghost town of Garnet Montana and many small stops in between for photographs.

So with this year’s burn in the past and regardless of what it does outside I’ve settled 100% in to road trip prep mode again. My holidays are over and the next 11-12 months are going to go by fast and if I don’t keep up I won’t be ready to get outta here next year. I still have so many things to do. I’ve also been entertaining the idea of a small travel trailer to tow behind me this time around. As much as I am good with sleeping in the back of the truck, having something small to sleep, cook and edit photos in every night is a very appealing idea. With the added photo work that Fotos Forward will hopefully bring to the next trip, I feel it’s a wise investment. Definitely won’t be looking at the newest greatest in trailers but a used inexpensive option that I can tweak into a little mobile workstation may be the way to go. If anyone comes across a sweet deal on a lightweight trailer shorter than 17 feet let me know.

Until next time, Thanks for following. Watch for many photos soon!

Much Love,

Wayne

 

Gifted Time

When I was growing up my relationship with my father was confusing. Both my parents were young when I was born, he became a truck driver and as I grew up I didn’t have that “bond” that some fathers and sons have. Don’t get me wrong. I knew full well I was loved and my childhood was definitely not a bad one. When it came to dad, the older I got the more I felt that I simply didn’t know him, not like I knew my mom, who was my best friend.  As I was finishing high school my parents got a divorce after many trial separations of which I tried out living with both of them individually. After my graduation I promptly started my own life and got the hell out of dodge, spending a few years at an arm’s length from everyone.

Fast forward a a few years and I found myself living in Calgary, not making much money, still chasing the dream of a life of music. At the time I lived in a part of town that was close to a popular truck stop. Upon finding out how close I was my dad and I started to meet once in awhile when he was coming through town. Conversations between two grown men over the odd greasy spoon dinner were had. Not many, I’m guessing I met him 4 or 5 times. It was great, through chats about cars, women and life I started to get to know my dad, as a friend, as a guy who had had a kid and got married when he was 19 years old. I looked forward to the next time he’d call to let me know he was coming through town. Instead, about a month after his 46th birthday I got a different call. One from my stepmother telling me that he had been killed in an accident outside of Nanton Alberta involving his truck not being braked properly while he was underneath it and it rolled over him.

Two years later things started to happen with the band I was in and despite my mom being there full stop and cheering the whole way despite the distance I still missed not being able to share with dad the small successes. The happiness would soon become short lived.

In a break between albums I was summoned by my aunt to get my ass back home as things were not right and the story of my mother’s shortness of breath was not being relayed to me in full. I flew home in late April of that year, thrust into a whirlwind of maybes, we don’t knows, misdiagnosis, cancer diagnosis, decline in health, support, home nurses, my 30th birthday “party”, oxygen bottles, morphine misters, will discussions, will fights, life insurance discussions, family bullshit, sadness and finally death. Six weeks after her 46th birthday my mom and my best friend was dead of inoperable lung cancer.

I’ll spare you the details of the next decade and a half. Lets leave it as a roller-coaster ride through grief, pain, bitterness, money I didn’t want, money I didn’t have anymore, dissolving music careers, career changes, new chapters and a whole lot of time spent on a hamster wheel.

Fast forward to the present day. It’s July 31, 2014. On June 16th of this year I turned 46. As of now, I am living and experiencing time that neither of my parents got to see in their own lives. I somehow feel that I can not, under any circumstances waste this time. My days spent in this cubicle are now numbered, 365 to be exact. At which point I will, ready or not take another leap of faith into pursuing a dream I have of seeing and photographing as much of the world as I can in the time I have left, however much that may be. Starting with the country and continent in which I live. If for some reason I don’t succeed again, then I will regroup until I can try a forth time, and again and again. This is MY time, my time to create that mark that my soul needs to leave before I depart this magnificent marble. A mark that will represent not only myself but the two people who made me. Using every ounce of the creativity that my mother shared, inspired and nurtured in me from day one. Using the tenacity, guts, logic and all out balls that my father possessed. I will make every day count as from here on in they will be lived for three.

I love you mom and dad.

 

 

Finally, A Proper Update

When it comes to an actual update on the progress of the next (if any) road trip, it’s been awhile. For that I apologize.

I do in fact, have many a plans and have been working hard at getting some ducks in a row as I plan for the 3rd attempt at the Grandest North American Road Trip ever taken, (might as well dream big right).

I’ve been working a mundane 9-5 job that is keeping me off the streets and helping me get rid of all my debt. The downside can be defined using one word, CUBICLE. I would never even think about keeping a bird in a cage after the past  two and a half years speaking strictly from experience. My already pudgy carcass is turning to mush and I’m sure my mind isn’t far behind. Just doing the 20 minute commute there makes me tense and miserable.

I digress. I HAVE been doing other work towards getting back out on the road, a much happier place. I’ve revamped and just launched my photography portfolio where there are lots of photos available for prints in many different sizes. Keep checking back as I’ll be adding even more each week as time goes by. Before that I did a quick update to my design portfolio and revamped my namesake portal which links to everything I do.

Here’s the big difference between the past road trips and the next one. On my last trip through the southwest US I had a few bouts of loneliness. As I’ve been here working the only real time off I’ve allowed myself is to take my vacation time and go to Burning Man. 2012 was my first year and it had always been something I wanted to experience, timing and money had never really allowed it previously. So I went, but before I did I did my research about the festival and realized I wanted to contribute something. Something easy for me to do that I hoped people would appreciate transformed into a crazy little cart being towed behind my bike in Black Rock City. Two cheap light stands attached to the cart with a couple of off camera flashes dangling in the wind, I pointed them and the camera at my fellow residents and made portraits of them. Whoever wanted one. Then, once home I edited them all and gifted them back to people who contacted me via the business card I gave them to reach the website. I went back in 2013 and did again and during the winters here in Calgary, when thankful happy people were messaging me to download their photos I realized that I was getting just as much from the exchange (if not more) as they were. It felt warm and amazing. Back to my original point, the loneliness on the road.

As I started to think about the next trip and the possibility of being out for much longer (fingers crossed) I felt myself sometimes feeling a bit blue. Then after awhile I started to think I should do a project of some sort to help meet people as I traveled. I thought of doing reviews of diners and many other things that people who travel blog tend to do. Then after awhile a light went off in my semi mushy grey matter and I thought “I need to bring the photo cart ideology into the real world”. Logistically dragging the cart I use at Burning Man isn’t an option but the premise is the same. I also considered that I didn’t want to roll into any town and take away work from a local photographer trying to make a living. So in that, I decided that what I am going to do is concentrate my efforts on those that simply can’t afford a professional, live in rural areas where there may not be a professional and also those who have been dealing with some sort of fortitude testing event. In this thinking I started to realize that I wanted people to share inspiring stories with me and with the viewers of the photos. Anything from personal victories like a single mom who raised a graduating honour student to someone beating Cancer to a family rebuilding after a fire which took all their photographic memories. The possibilities are endless.

After months of fine tuning I decided to launch the project locally about 12 days ago to do what I can around the southern Alberta area (where just a year ago many were affected by severe flooding), while the weather here is kind. Hence FOTOSFORWARD was launched and I’m currently trying to spread the word with one new shoot booked for August.

So, when does the actual road tripping happen?

As it stands right now I have a plan to take the cart back to Burning Man this August and do another year of photos for all my friends there. Then, short of any setbacks I’m on track to be debt free by the end of April 2015. After which I plan to save up every penny I can until August 2015.

At that time I will make my way to Burning Man one more time, do one more year with the photo cart and will be leaving right from the Nevada desert into my third road trip adventure and the Fotosforward project. I figure after three and half years in a cage I need to have one hell of a launch party, not much better of a place than Black Rock City!

With that in mind, if you want to help get me back on the road feel free to buy a print or hire me for a shoot. Every dollar goes into the kitty for the road trips AND the FotosForward project. You can also help by sharing the project via Facebook, Twitter etc and be sure to follow the new Wayne On The Road Facebook page as well. This next trip out is going to be taken at a much slower pace with many updates, more photos and yes, I may even do the odd review of a good diner here and there.

Thank you sincerely for following me in the past, or joining the adventure now as I prep for a new one. Either way, I appreciate you all and hope to see, meet, photograph so many of you along the way.

Much Love,

W.

Dorcy Metal Gear XLM Flashlight

A few years back I attended a workshop put on by photographer Troy Paiva who specializes in light painting during long exposure night shoots. The weeks prior I researched various flashlights and when it came to a higher powered one I went with a Streamlight Stinger. It was great for the workshop but after that I didn’t have a lot of regular use for it. Last year I quickly found that it would not hold a charge in the internal battery. The hefty price of over $80 was soon unjustified.

Just as I was starting to look for a new replacement for my upcoming road trips I was serendipitously contacted by a fellow named David on behalf of Dorcy. Not even realizing Dorcy made flashlights David directed me to a website where I was able to choose a light to test and review. Soon I had a new Dorcy Metal Gear XLM Flashlight in my arsenal.

This light is a great replacement for the heavier Stinger I had and weighs about half as much yet still a sturdy combination of metal with a few tough plastic components. Instead of the rechargeable internal battery it houses 6 AA cells and so far the battery life is comparable. It’s got two brightness settings with the second being about half power and the bright setting of 600 lumens that has a listed range of over 360 meters. Coming in a little less than the Stinger I owned I have to say the Metal Gear XLM instills just as much confidence if not more for a slightly better price.

If you need a midrange powered durable light that can handle the day to day I highly recommend give the Dorcy Metal Gear a try.
Wayne

Inspiration in the Inner Silence

Today turned into a lazy unproductive day. Apparently between my mind and body I needed to shut down for more than the standard 7 hours. I awoke at 10am with a serious headache, wishing I had at least had the corresponding fun last night to warrant such discomfort but that wasn’t the case. I got up, fed my room mate’s cat, grabbed a few Advil and went back to bed. Fast forward to 5:06pm after an undisturbed sleep with a few vivid sections of odd dreams I was awake, anew and wondering what the hell I’ve been doing to render me so exhausted.

I have a way of chastising myself when a day is “wasted”, which is also part of the reason I have such a problem going into a job only to warm a chair to acquire a paycheque. I need to be productive and to be honest am counting the days to which I can be out doing what it is I’m supposed to be doing. The denial of that is chipping away at my soul constantly. A friend of mine shared this poem by Charles Bukowski that totally nailed my feelings of as late. Dealing with the day to day “swarm of trivialities” in this temporary existence I’m living in is in short, the equivalent to inviting a vampire to drain me dry of all my life force. Obviously I’m not naive to the fact that no matter what I’m doing in life there will be things that drive me bonkers but when they are related to a more self chosen path, they always seem less of a burden, smaller demons I guess.

This all said, I sit here inspired. I wrangled myself together, have enjoyed a cherished hot coffee and long hot shower, (where I find myself looking inward a lot). I know I have a lot of preparation to do for my next adventure and while I suffer the trivialities of this common existence I also realize that the time will move quickly in comparison to what needs to be done. So with that I’ll get to doing some of the small things I can accomplish tonight. More research on places to go to, things to see and shoot, stops I will make when I’m free of this temporary refuelling stop.

It’s just a matter of time before I’m back on the road and there is a possibility (due to a potential opportunity that I will touch back on later of it comes together) that I may be released of this pit stop sooner than later.

Keep moving forward friends,
W