STEINBECK’S AMERICA – FROM EAST TO WEST

Reading John Steinbeck’s 1962 book Travels With Charley: In Search of America in 1992 was so amazing that I felt compelled to document my own journey across America at the end of the 20th Century. Here are my notes from the first part of my trip.

For information on how to order my new photo book Steinbeck’s America, contact us HERE.

From East to West

When John Steinbeck left the safe haven of his Sag Harbor home on Long Island in the autumn of 1960 with his French poodle, Charley, he was embarking on a three month journey to rediscover the land he had championed and loved. He drove north to New England in his self-contained camper truck, which he named “Rocinante” after Don Quixote’s horse. There he visited his youngest son in Deerfield, Massachusetts and a literary friend on Maine’s Deer Island. He then turned west in what could be described as a hero’s journey. He had suffered episodes of numb fingers and slurred speech the previous winter, and at age 58 was contemplating his own mortality. With the vastness of a continent before him, he likened his self-appointed mission to the overwhelming task of beginning a new novel. Undeterred, he undertook his last epic road trip with Charley by his side. Continue reading “”

HOME AFTER MY OFF-SEASON SOUTHWEST ADVENTURE

I was fortunate to have wonderful weather in Arizona, Nevada and Utah this past week. I also made sure my route avoided popular destinations, with the exception of Forrest Gump Point at Monument Valley (it’s far less crowded at sunrise as seen above).

Ten locations in seven days, getting up at sunrise, driving 5 hours, then somewhere else at sunset for the whole week. There were many great opportunities for photos, and my trip went without a hitch, except when an eagle hit the windshield of my rental car – shattering it on the last evening of my trip – two days after a teenager fell to his death trying to make a photograph from a cliff four miles from my accident.

I’m fine and will be returning to the SW USA later this year for more photography, trying my best to avoid bird and deer strikes, and remaining safe on location.

Be Careful Out There. No photograph is worth your life:

19 Year Old Falls To Death

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WHERE TO GO NEXT?

This time of year my mind begins to wander to locales less wet than the Pacific Northwest. Mexico is always good in the winter, but for something closer to home, nothing beats the U.S. Southwest for a feeling of expansiveness and freedom.

Sacramento group from L to R
Front row: Kathy Ungari, Laura Kolafa, Vicki Childs, Stephen Childs, Mary Borden, Kim Nelson, Rachel Nelson.
Back row: Randy Wells, Frank Kolafa, Bruce Ungari, David Borden.

THANK YOU PORSCHE 356 REGISTRY MAGAZINE

Editor Peter Bodensteiner was kind enough to approve an assignment for a feature published this month prior to my attending the 2023 Goodwood Revival in southern England. The group I traveled with were Sacramento area 356 Registry participants guided by original Goodwood member Stephen Childs.

You can imagine how much fun it was to dress in period costume while photographing and hanging out with these folks and all the illuminate attending this amazing historic racing event! This is one trip I would do again!

Porsche 356 Registry Magazine

PERSONAL WORK – 2023

Personal work is vital for feeding the artist’s soul. Followers of my blog know that at the end of each year I post a series of three personal photographs made at a non-assignment single location.

This year was full of assignments, so my personal work was made on the road between jobs. Part of that travel time was spent in Paris. Here are some pics I made on the run – just another tourist in the city of light.

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CROSSROADS

John Van Dyke is a successful designer in Seattle who worked with my photos on occasion in the 90’s. He’s also an architect and brand creator. Now he travels across the country, filming and recording conversations. I think he is on to something.

“Crossroads – We are all on a journey, sometimes we cross the road.” – Words and Illustration courtesy of John Van Dyke

Here are his thoughts on selfies, avatars, emojis, memes, and memories:

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ROAD TRIP STORY

Look for my road trip story about riding in a Magenta 911 from LA to Monterey for the recent Rennsport Reunion. It will be in the Novemeber issue of PCA’s Panorama, along with more photos of mine on all the popular colors at the event.

Image of the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia, America Southeast by Randy Wells

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT STOCK PHOTOS WERE DEAD

A long-time client of mine is National Geographic Books. That relationship is based on all the travel and nature photography I did in the ’80s and ’90s. Recently they asked for a photo of mine to be published in their most recent release “Atlas of Wild America”. They were kind enough to include a copy that I received yesterday. It is a great gift for all those who want to venture outside the national parks into the less traveled areas.

What an honor it is to be included with so many great photographers who I know from the past!

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BACK FROM GOODWOOD REVIVAL, HEADING TO RENNSPORT REUNION

This year has been all about car meets and motorsports for me. Checking off bucket list items has been a pleasure, and I feel grateful to have been able to do it on assignment. Along the way I’ve also been able to do some studio work and on location storytelling. I’ll need some time this winter just to catch up on all the jobs I’ve taken on!

Stunning aerial image of Bora Bora, French Polynesia, Tahiti by travel-photographer-randy-wells-videographer-filmmaker-cinematographer-storyteller-writer-location-and-studio-specialist

TRAVEL IS NO LONGER ON MY BUCKET LIST

At least travel to overcrowded locations, overrun with selfies. I don’t believe that travel is anywhere near as enjoyable as it was 25 years ago.

That doesn’t mean I don’t travel much. I’ll have been to Palm Springs, Phoenix, Monterey, L.A., Ireland, France, and England on assignment this year.

It’s just that I don’t have a bucket list anymore. I’ve seen a lot, and what remains is not something I have to see in my lifetime. Well, maybe a return to Ireland, Bora Bora, and Rome (off season) would be nice.

Vox’s Rebecca Jennings recently wrote. “But it all ends the same: with thousands of people doing the same things, in the same places, at the same times.” I would approach bucket-list travel in ways that are respectful to both yourself and to the places you visit. Seek out undiscovered locations or travel during the off-season, and support local businesses with your arrangements and accommodations.

THE OTHER SIDE OF PARIS

I arrived in Paris last month on the eve before the riots began. While photographing the Arc de Triomphe the next morning at dawn, I made this photo with police vans and cars on their way to what were the districts in turmoil. Only later did I understand the significance of this image.

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Image of tulips in Skagit Valley in the spring, Washington, Pacific Northwest by Randy Wells

SPRING TULIPS IN SKAGIT VALLEY WASHINGTON

The next couple of weeks will be prime time for tulip viewing in the Skagit Valley of Washington State. The bloom is a little later this year due to the unusual winter snow storms.

Image of a man sitting under a palapa in Bora Bora, Tahiti, French Polynesia, model released by Randy Wells

WHERE TO GO IN MARCH

About this time of year I grow tired of the PNW winter rain and yearn for someplace warm and dry.

Tahiti and Australia make my short list, as do closer locales like Hawaii and Mexico. I still pine for that bungalow on the beach in Bora Bora, where I spent a winter week below the equator in 1991.

RED SKY IN MORNING

… Sailors take warning. It’s an old adage, along with studying clouds, that has proven helpful for me in predicting weather conditions for photography. Here’s a red sunrise I was gifted with at the harbor in Ilwaco, WA recently.

Merry Christmas! The holiday that celebrates the birth of a fisher of men.

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