June 1, 2012

My Personal Time Machine Traveling Photo Studio More Home Than the Home I was Away From BRONCO

Cowboy drawing a map for me -Pinedale, Wyoming Rodeo - first year I headed West

I felt it was time to pay tribute to my beloved and missed Bronco - the perfect name for the truck that took me all throughout the West. It has been on my mind for some time - then I saw a post on another photographer's blog that reminded me - time to pay homage to the Bronco. I may get a little choked up in doing so.

Before I purchased the Bronco - I had some crazy 'vision' or premonition of sorts of it out in 29 Palms. I was in Los Angeles working on a photo shoot as a producer or casting director - can't remember - but had a couple days off so I rented a car and hauled ass out to Joshua Tree. I think, at this point, I had yet to do a couple road trips in my old $500 '67 Impala. I was coming into 29 Palms and there was this white SUV (this was the mid 90's) on the side of the road filled with equipment or stuff and some chick climbing into the back end to get something ... I don't know why I noticed it or remembered it but ... I felt like I was seeing myself in the future.

Mountain Man photograph (GO WEST series) taken that same day in Pinedale, Wyoming

Cut to some time later - I think year or two and I was in Iowa visiting my parents and grandparents. The idea of traveling to do photographs had started to enter my mind. I had taken trips in my Impala but was thinking about new adventures. It was a very stormy rainy day so my Dad and I went to 'just look' at cars and trucks at the local Ford garage. I was thinking of something with room for backdrops etc and walked up behind this slightly used white Bronco and they put the back window down and opened the rear tail gate and "I will take it" ... it just hit me - get this truck now - this is what you need. It was kind of funny. It wasn't vintage or full of style but after adding dual exhaust - nice wheels - 8 track player and an Elvis tire cover I personalized it a bit. I had taken road trips with old cars and having something dependable was kind of a plus - fewer breakdowns and it started every time.

I spent so much time alone in that truck driving and driving ... with my backdrops filling the length of the truck from dashboard to tailgate - room for equipment and junk shopping finds and to sleep ... so many great times on the road. Then carrying those memories with me as I cruised around New York City for my remaining time there. I remember waking up in Yellowstone with a huge Elk standing just outside, sleeping on top in the Badlands (and possibly being abducted by aliens, but that is another story), driving down a lonely two lane beside a herd of horses running along side, hanging a days worth of Type 55 and 665 negatives in the back end to dry ...

I miss the Bronco and think I see it now and then on the road as someone in South Dakota bought it after my Dad convinced me the cracked head would be a problem (hmmm thinking that may have been bad advice). I am sad to have let it go after I moved out here and regret not making it into a traveling darkroom of sorts or fill it full of photographs as a traveling mini exhibition ... things change ... It was a great photo truck but guess it couldn't last forever.  I have transitioned from fabricated Bronco to the real deal anyway ... ©JEAN LAUGHTON