“Good photographs are there to be listened to as well as looked at; the better the photograph, the more there is to hear.” -Geoff Dyer, But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz
GREAT NEWS. 2 of my corporate collectors have come forward and made anonymous donations totalling $16,000. Because of the restrictions on the site by Indiegogo, I can't show this donation on the total, but I'm pleased to say that we are now more than 25% there! Thank you all!
Over the past 6 years I have been on the road solidly for 4 of them. And I really do mean solid – ie 300 nights per year. My early morning photography habits have allowed me to build up a very large photo library, and I intend to continue in this fashion. I know the road. I know how it’s done, I know the tricks to make it better, and I know time management. I am made for this type of thing.
I will be using a vehicle that is essentially identical to 2 others that I have owned. I know their weaknesses and strengths, and am well prepared for most emergencies. I also have had to deal with the ins and outs of mobile communications, especially when you are generating hundreds of megabytes per day. Photography gear is surprisingly robust, but still back-up equipment is compulsory and I have that covered. The same goes for computing equipment. I prefer paper maps to GPS's since they cover off-highway routes better. Most things that I want to shoot in early morning light are 100 miles or so from the nearest motel, so I have built up my vehicle to serve as a mini RV/office.
I plan to spend most nights camping ("boondocking") so I'll be exactly where I want to be at dawn. I have equipment for the basics - toilet, shower, cooler, water, etc. so I'm well set up for survival. I function just fine without a cup of hot coffee in the morning, but a cold splash of water on my face is nice. I eat, but not heavily, and I’d rather eat nothing than junk food. My mobile office also includes secondary back-up and picture previewing, and even mobile uploading where wifi exists (ie McDonalds parking lots).
As far as dangers go, in this day and age, beyond those that are thugs, vandals, or those protecting illegal operations, I have to count on my past extensive experience to stay out of trouble, and what to say and do to GET out of trouble. I’m still here. Just as big a danger is “Johnny Law”. Small town law enforcement can be pretty bored and I might provide their entertainment for the day. Again, this is an experience thing, what you say and do at first encounter will very much dictate how things will go. I’ve had local cops threaten to charge me with vagrancy despite sleeping in a truck carrying about $100k in goods, trespassing, disturbing the peace, etc.
Feigning ignorance is always the first line of defense, even if your rights are being trampled on. Escalation (ie arrest) means having a civil rights attorney on retainer (I do) and adequate funds easily accessible to pay outrageous fines to get out of there (I will). Another tactic, is to show the police what you’ve photographed in the last little while, and erase the card in front of them. I back up quite often, and it’s unlikely that I would lose many shots that way, by using a bunch of small CF cards instead of say a 16GB card that holds almost 1000 shots. Erasing that many shots without a back-up would make me feel suicidal.
First of all, the hope is that there are images getting uploaded within a week of my departure. At that point my book designer – James Cook will be getting looks for curiosity’s sake, but won’t be doing anything with them besides adding them to HIS back-up stream. I plan to be back in Toronto for 2-3 days every three months, and if I have enough time I will try to get at least some of the images through post, and also adding city and state to their EXIF info.
After the first 6 months of road time, James will start to consider themes and look at templating the look and feel of the overall book. This will not be a major endeavour for him at this point; few book designers can effectively create anything without all the final product at hand. But he will also begin to do his own cull of his favorites, for consideration at the end.
Meanwhile, I will be shopping early galleys of the book to arthouse publishers with hopes of generating a book that works as a companion to gallery showings as well as gaining interest with bricks & mortar bookstores. Though my initial e-book will be aimed at the iPad, there is a possibility that there would be another for the kindle down the road.
We will be trying to have a hard copy book ready within a couple of months of my return, which will then be embellished with illustrations by Marian Bantjes, and also be producing the e-book at the same time. It’s a tall order.
Other things to be looked after in these short visits are health, banking, and anything else that comes up of a financial or administrative nature (something always does). And of course visiting with my 86 year old mother.
My name is Marshall. Or Marsh. Or "hey you, whaddaya think you're doing?" I'm 53 years old, feel much younger since creative work is so satisfying. I can't imagine doing anything else.
Years ago, my tech fascination helped me see this new thing, the internet.
It may have even been called ArpaNet at the time. I was spellbound. I started a design company almost immediately to take advantage of what was really missing – design-savvy people to get major clients a presence on the internet. As my clients grew, so did the need for people and capability, which took us heavily into print design. Myself, I would say that I was a not bad sketch artist, an excellent conceptualist, and a terrible manager/boss. Nonetheless, the company continued to grow, and I found that what I loved working with most was photography. The photos really spoke to me.
Clearly, I was never going to be as brilliant as Aaron Draplin, Marian Bantjes or Jim Coudal, and running a small company was really keeping me away from the creative fun stuff. I took up a hobby, just to get my creative ya-ya’s out. This was now the dawn of digital photography – when 4 megapixel point & shoot cameras cost $1300. But it was worth it for me as I scoured Vancouver and learned. I was in love, and life suddenly told me what I was born to do.
And though I am, for the moment, an ex-pat American, my life in Canada is so intertwined with my life in America, that though they are two distinctly separate countries, for the sake of my life they are one large country.
So, for now, I call Toronto home, but that may change too. I’ve made a lot of great friends all over, and many other towns and places call my name.
I have seen offers from numerous galleries as well as the odd assignment-based agency. But working on the ideas of others has never been my strong point, and so what I have become for the most part is a documentary landscape photographer. This type of work does not have a lot of representation since it works solely from inventory, but I have managed to find a diverse client base, from the assistant mayor of New York to Hüsker Dü frontman Bob Mould, from Esquire Magazine to Corbis Images, From Mix Magazine to PhotoServe. My website is www.marshallsokoloff.com
The At Home Crew:
James Cook: Book Design and Boy Friday
Marian Bantjes: Graphic Illustrator and Moral Support (www.bantjes.com)
Katie Grant: Video Editor (kategrant.ca)
Jon Armstrong: Technical Advisor; Social Media (www.blurbomat.com)
Tim Swope: Technical Advisor, Geographic Guru (www.pixelmap.com)
Gail Burgin: Promotions