Portraits From A Cross-Country Road Trip

Portraits From A Cross-Country Road Trip

by Roger Kisby

The first in a month-long series on terrible trips, great journeys and getting lost.

In March, I quit my job in advertising to pursue a career in photography. With no money coming in and gas prices at an all-time high, I decided the timing was perfect for a soul-searching cross-country road trip. For three months I traveled in my FJ Cruiser (a great rig for all the elements, not so great for gas mileage). After a trip to Austin to cover SXSW, my route became a nonsensical zigzag pattern around the western half of the country, the points based on wherever I had a friend to stay with, what the internet said was interesting or whatever struck me that day as worth exploring. I was traveling by myself, and most days were planned the morning-of in a coffee shop. I spent significant time in the West Texas; Moab, Utah; Indio, California; Las Vegas (where my parents live); Los Angeles; and driving up the Pacific Coast Highway. There was talk about making it to Alaska but I’ll have to wait until I quit my next job to do that.

I tried to shoot a portrait every day, and I ultimately shot about 70 portraits of people I met along the way. One reason I chose to do portraits was as a way to force myself to interact with people and situations as I traveled. For this reason, I shot mostly film on an older medium-format camera. The process was slower and it made me take my time with the people I was shooting. I would either just see someone I wanted to shoot or find myself in conversation with someone and I would segue into asking for a portrait. Most people were very receptive. Only a few said no.

Brothers Chris and Ryan. Loggers. Forks, Washington.

Adam. Fly Fisherman. Essex, Montana.

Sylvestre and Tavito. Towaoc, Colorado.

Bunny. Portland, Oregon.

Kirk. Taxidermist. Casper, Wyoming.

Nadine and Kim. Maids. Missoula, Montana.

From left to right, Peter (Engineer, Germany), Henry (Test Pilot, USA) and Massimiliano (Test Director, Italy). Mojave Air and Space Port. Mojave, California.

John. Rancher. Livingston, Montana.

Eric. Preacher. Cortez, Colorado.

Earthship Academy. Tres Piedras, New Mexico.

Viva Las Vegas. Dancer and author. Portland, Oregon.

Ronnie. Packard Plant. Detroit, Michigan.

Ty. Cowboy. Marfa, Texas.

Taylor. Los Angeles, California.

Arlene and Josh. Niland, California.

George. Student. White Sands National Monument, New Mexico.

Tommy and Joe. Inmates. Marfa, Texas.

Shilo and son. Moab, Utah.

Thor. Owner of See See Motorcycles. Portland, Oregon.

Julio. Priest. Chimayo, New Mexico.

Red. Slab City, California.

Angel. Cook. Slab City, California.

Zach and Bambi. Kalispell, Montana.

George. Pearl Jam Equipment Manager. Seattle, Washington.

Roger Kisby is an editorial and portrait photographer who lives in Brooklyn. You can see more road trip photos at his Tumblr and on Instagram. You can also follow him on twitter.