Road Trip To Meet A Role Model

Atlanta GA

Back at the end of April, Sara and I took a road trip.  We took a little over a week and drove from New Hampshire to Atlanta, Georgia and stopped at various places on the way down and way back, but, secretly, I used the trip as an excuse to drive down to meet photographer Zack Arias.

I've been writing for DEDPXL now for a while.  Zack is kinda my boss; he pays me every time I write an article for them.  I try to be very delicate and not over-mention my affiliation with Zack or DEDPXL, because I don't want people to roll their eyes and get annoyed.  I try to be very careful to not be that person who tries to drop names all the time and hook themselves onto other successful people.  It's a balance.  I'm over the moon to work with him and be part of his tribe, and to have him think that I'm a voice that needs to be heard.  But I try to not let that carry me.  I try to be realistic.  But it's pretty flippin' awesome and sometimes I still can't believe that I get to be part of his team of DEDPXL creatives.

Anyway, I tried to meet up with him last year at PhotoPlus, but I got the PhotoPlus plague and had to come home early because I got really sick.  So, I figured, maybe I'm meant to go to him instead.

So we packed up the car with only a lose plan and figured we wing it as we drove down.

Read lots more and see lots more pictures after the cut:

Our first stop was at Shad Fest in Lambertville, New Jersey where I got to buy a shirt with a fish on it, which I found endlessly funny.  We stopped that night at a great little Motel with a fantastic old "MOTEL" sign.

Motel • Adamstown PENN

Which just happened to be across the street from two HUGE antique flea markets, which we anxiously gobbled up the next morning.  Instead of getting on the road early, we didn't hit the highway until mid-afternoon, but we got a lot of walking in, and had a fantastic morning poking through other peoples stuff.

Renninger's Antique Market • Adamstown PENN

The end of the second day we made it to Gettysburg.  Sara loves statues and monuments and memorials made in the early 1900's.  She LOVES them.  So Gettysburg was a dream come true - as every other step we took seemed to have some kind of memorial or bronze statue.  It was pretty amazing.

Gettysburg Sunset • VA

Sunset at Gettysburg near one of the fields.

Gettysburg Memorial • VA
Gettysburg Memorial • VA

Doing a little walking, Geocaching and photographing somewhere in VA at some random stop.

Natural Chimney's • Mount Solon VA

Natural Chimney's at Mount Solon, VA.  A great place to view crazy natural formations and have a late lunch.

We got into Atlanta mid-week of our trip, and we booked an absolutely adorable place to stay through Airbnb.  Guys, listen, if you have never used Airbnb go sign up now.  I love Motels and stuff, but staying at Airbnb's is a whole other relaxing experience.  We used it last year when we went to Washington, and we've yet to be disappointed with where we've stayed.  So awesome.

We met Zack and his wife, Meg, and Dan Almasy for dinner the next evening.  I was nervous.  About as nervous as you can get meeting someone you've been following online for years.  Because I've seen so many things he's done; videos, online classes, blog posts, etc, I felt kinda like I already knew him, which made things even more scary, because I didn't want to seem like one of those creepy internet-stalker-fan people.  But, at the same time, it's a guy that I work for, so I was a little calmer since our emails back and forth generally made me believe we warmed up a little towards each other.

I don't have any pictures of Zack.  I didn't want it to be that kind of meeting, or road trip.  I wanted to get a chance to just hang out, eat good food, have good laughs and become friends.

And it was great - that first night at dinner was awesome.  We ate and joked and laughed and talked about family and growing up.  We talked about everything except photography.  It was a really good time, and Zack even said it was nice to be able to meet people and *not* talk about photography.

The next day we met him for lunch and chatted some more, and then that evening he and Dan came by our airbnb and we had some beers and just chatted some more.

He was also moving into a new studio those days we were there, which was unexpected, so we didn't get to spend a whole lot of time with him since he was waist-deep in moving stuff.  But we got a brief tour of the studio and helped move an old piano that belonged to Meg, so that was cool.

In between Sara and I ventured out into Atlanta, had great cuban sandwiches, went to some good record and vintage clothing stores, and the Atlanta botanical gardens.  We rested up at the Airbnb too, since we'd been doing lots of driving to get to Atlanta.

That evening that Zack and Dane came to the Airbnb place, we said our goodbyes, and I had him sign the copy of his "Photography Q&A" book.  That was the only time I geeked out on my fandom a bit.

Zack and Dan and Meg - they are good people.  Good, hardworking, people.  I can't wait to make stuff with these guys.  I'm hoping they'll want to make stuff with me.

It's still scary - I keep thinking that they'll discover what a fake I am, or that I'm really just some fat nerd who drives a scooter and takes pictures of toys and watches movies and plays with puppets and they'll kick me out of their tribe.  But I don't think they will.

I have to remember that whatever it was that I've done that got me to the accomplishment of being part of their tribe, I've done it because of being who I am - of expressing and photographing and saying and writing things in (hopefully) my own voice.  To be honest and express my love of photography and all these other crazy things that I'm obsessed with, and Zack is just one of those people who thought what I was saying was kinda cool.  And now I get to be on a pretty awesome team of other people that like to create and express themselves honestly.

That's pretty awesome shit.

So we headed out of Atlanta that Saturday, and took our time heading home.

Some random abandoned theatre on the side of the road somewhere overgrown with grass and weeds.

Blue Ridge Parkway • NC

Driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Sara • Gettysburg

Sara taking some pictures at a random stop with her Lubitel 166.

Oh, also, I only brought my X100 with me on the trip.  No, that's not true - I had a DSLR with one lens in a bag also, but never once did I take it out of the bag.  The X100 did everything I needed it to do while on our road trip.  So awesome.

I'm still really excited to be working with Zack at DEDPXL.  I feel like I can't talk about how excited I am because people will get annoyed, or that I'll talk about it so much they'll think I'm trying to show it off.  It's always hard when you can't be excited too much about awesome things that happen to you for fear that you think people will feel you are boasting or trying to show off.

But, hey, I'm trying really hard to make this photography thing work for me.  I'm not a member of PPA or any of those other large photography groups, and I'm not a member of the Chamber or anything on a more local level.  I'm trying to get my name out there without getting locked into the trappings of groups of that kind, and when someone who I look up to tells me that what I'm saying needs to be heard by an industry of my peers, it's a pretty damn good feeling.  Even if I can't express it as much as I'd like.

Thanks, Zack, Meg and Dan, for making us feel really welcome.  Thanks for being warm and inviting.  Thanks for the laughs.

I'm really excited about this.  And I'm looking forward to getting back down there again and helping you guys make magic.