How do you like to travel? Do you pick a destination and then spend every spare minute researching what to do and where to go and what to eat? Sometimes that is the best way to make sure nothing important is missed. A lot of people have one opportunity to get to a location in their lifetime and no one wants to get home to find out they missed the Grand Canyon when they were in Arizona or Mount Rushmore when they drove through South Dakota. The internet has made trip researching and planning easier than ever with the advent of such sites as TripAdvisor and Google. Experiences by other travelers are openly shared on the internet helping to point the compass in the right direction.
I decided to approach my last trip more like a wandering nomad with only a general sense of driving west or east today, north or south tomorrow. It went against every grain of Type A personality planning that I have carried around since birth. This was not easy...at all. I find comfort and security in plans. I know what I'm doing. I don't have to worry about what might happen if... I decided to do it because someone I admire a lot used to travel that way. That person was Ernst Haas. He talked about it in his film documentary "To Dream With Eyes Wide Open":
I was always accused of not knowing where I am going and what I'm doing. This is really true because there is an element of surprise which for me is very, very important.
Could this really be true, I wondered? Had I been behaving like a banker my whole life and worse yet, on my photography trips? Taking out every ounce of creativity as I marched through my itineraries, checking off my to-do list one by one?
I decided to put my trust in Ernst Haas. Just once. I took comfort knowing that if it didn't work, I wouldn't do it again. I knew where I was sleeping at night and that was it. I let the car do the driving and if something piqued my curiosity I explored it, letting myself be available to any whim that arose. From the very first photo of my trip, it lead me to off the beaten track places like this:
to the very last photo of my trip:
Was it successful? I don't know, but I felt like this method of travel worked out very good for me and I will definitely try it again. On repeated occasions I remember thinking how lucky I was and being grateful for every moment I had and working like crazy before the clock ran out of time.
I hope you enjoyed this blog and I thank you very much for coming by. As you may have noticed I am test driving a new logo. Comments are open so feel free to let me know your thoughts. Thank you!
Originally published March 1, 2012
I found myself thinking a lot about Ernst Haas’ 1980 video documentary “To Dream With Eyes Wide Open”. I checked it out from the library some time ago and wished I had taken better notes when I initially watched it. So, I checked it out again, as it is impossible to find for sale, and this time I took copious notes. I rewound and rewound the tape until I got his statements word-for-word.
I initially happened upon Ernst Haas’ work while reading a book called The 50 Most Influential Photographers Of All Time by Chris Dicke. I blogged about his use of motion in still photography back in February of 2011.
I would like to spend a couple of weeks talking about some of his ideas because they are so rich; a virtual goldmine of information to anybody working in the visual arts. This week, I would like to explore the main theme of his documentary, dreaming with eyes wide open.
He says “We eat, we digest. We don’t only digest food, we also digest knowledge, what we learn. But there’s another way of digestion which has nothing to do with our consciousness. It’s kind of an unconscious way to digest and that’s dreaming. That means you go into a state almost like an aware kind of sleep which means you’re all free, just let it be. Let it become and with tremendous compassion towards everything may it be human beings, or nature, or objects, you incorporate. It’s almost like, ah, in Buddhism, you would say incarnation. You become things, you become an atmosphere. And if you become it, which means you incorporate it within you, you can also give it back. You can put this feeling into a picture. A painter can do it and a musician can do it and I think a photographer can do that too. And that I would call the dreaming with open eyes.”
Those are beautiful words dear readers. When I wonder whether I have an image to depict this concept, the first thing that comes to mind is this image. The memory of it came to me instantly and without reflecting upon or questioning it and whether there is a better choice, I am simply going to include it. I was looking at this figure in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts when I felt compelled to push the button. I was literally shooting from the hip. You can see the camera strap around my neck but I didn’t know what was in the viewfinder except that I had the lens pointed toward the statue. I did not know what happened until after I looked at the LCD. But I liked what I saw.
I hope you found this inspiring and tune in for more to come. In the meantime, happy (day) dreaming!
I am a photographer who lives in Minnesota. I blog about Minnesota, photography, music, food and miscellaneous topics.