Mostly Context. That’s the polite, slightly-snarky way a friend of mine described my preferred style of road photography—mostly empty, horizontal desert and plains scenes, often featuring a bit of humankind’s handiwork. Even better if that handiwork is abandoned and/or decrepit. Those scruffy landscapes and bits-and-pieces images were my original photographic passion. And my taste for them hasn’t faded across a 35-year journalism career during which portrait, travel and documentary photography has (happily) often been a companion requirement of my writing assignments.
It seems pretty clear to me why I’m so enamoured by this niche genre. I was born and raised in a small Kansas town, in a prairie region that has slowly been losing population and falling on hard times since it’s heyday back in the homesteader boom years of the late 1800s. Where I lived, decay was close and constant—empty storefronts, shuttered factories, abandoned farmsteads that revealed themselves by rusted windmills, and bits of broken walls peeking through feral lilacs and tiger lilies. I was endlessly fascinated by those ruins, and the stories they conjured up in my imagination.
Ironically, I now live in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, just 30 miles from the ski slopes and mansions of Aspen. The only ruins you’ll find in this swank resort area are mining historic sites. When I feel the need for horizontal, for empty unkempt places, I head for the desert, 90 miles west, or the plains, 150 miles east. Then I point the truck down a back road. My style, as such, is simply to take competent, hopefully well framed photos that capture whatever might be interesting about the objects that are my focal points, while at the same time revealing some of the environment. Make that a great deal of the environment. I tend to desaturate my images a bit to emphasize starkness. I’ve been full on digital since 2009, and I am not sentimental for film. However, I do think digital images tend towards being over crisp. So I tend to avoid a lot of sharpening to maintain a softer filmic look. You can view my road trip photos on Instagram at @twolanedaydreams. I show another very random selection of people, sports and travel shots at @earlysnows. My website showcases both, plus a collection of images from our local rodeo that will be the subject of a month-and-a-half-long show here in Carbondale later this summer. The website is: www.georgehendrix.com