PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES
Amboy, California - 2023
I think visiting a potential film location for the first time is akin to a first date or a first experience at an acclaimed restaurant. It is all so unfamiliar and there is no guide as to where to start. The sensory overload can be intimidating and it takes time to distill and be oneself. Most second dates are better than the first and those who like a restaurant on their first visit will tend to enjoy it even more on the second and so it goes on. If this wasn’t the case, the brain is not the organ we give it credit for being. We are all incremental learners and we enjoy and leverage familiarity.
The first time I visited this railway track in the hot Californian desert, I knew it had visual potential, especially if I shot late in the afternoon and directly against the light, but I needed a month or so to let the cocktail of what I could do marinate in my own mind.
My predilection is to avoid the static or the mundane and planes, trains and cars in a still can look frozen. A plane defies gravity so that helps in a single image, but I knew the car and the train could not join it. I don’t envy Formula 1 photographers; it’s such a difficult sport to take stills of. My visual leaning was to have a sense of movement elsewhere and that’s where the idea of dust being kicked up from railway workers offered a solution. The light would be my partner.
Once the premise is there, it is about scalpel sharp precision in the detail. Let's not have any car - let’s have a vintage 1953 Ferrari and let's not have any girl holding the image together, let’s have Cindy Crawford - perhaps America’s most loved and celebrated model.
The styling in this shot was excellent and I thank Nicole Allowitz for being so good at her craft. This photograph is as much a testament to her as it is to me. The railway workers are so on point, as, of course, is Cindy. She is a given.
It is possible that some of my work over the last 10 years - particularly with wildlife - has been imitated and filmmakers have every right to do so. I celebrate a good picture like everyone else and there are some very able cameramen out there. But I don’t think this photograph is going to be imitated in a hurry and this gives me a little smile.