We return to OPTIC 2017 this week for two wonderful conversations with photographers who ply their trade on the road. First, we speak with Jonathan Irish, who, along with his partner, Stefanie Payne, spent 2016 crisscrossing the country in an Airstream trailer on an epic quest to photograph all 59 U.S. National Parks. They succeeded, and have branded their adventure The Greatest American Roadtrip. Irish discusses the planning it took to reach all of the parks, the sponsorship they received, and the photographic aspect of the journey, trying to capture the legendary landmarks, as well as the off-the-beaten-path locales of each park.
Jillian Mann and Kyla Trethewey are Our Wild Abandon and they, too, cruise the country in a trailer, but their journey started four years ago and has no end point—yet. Like most great road trips, theirs started with a need to just get away (from their native Vancouver) and, as often goes, they suffered early setbacks, including a roll-over accident and visa complications. They persisted and not only have documented their experiences, but have developed successful photo careers along the way. Their journey was not initially a photographic exercise, but we speak with them about how their Instagram feed grew and became a method to raise funds, eventually including branded content, and how they made the transition to commissioned assignments and agency representation, while maintaining their photographic vision of life on the road.
After a break, we continue with our serial, “Dispatch,” with Adriane Ohanesian. Ohanesian discusses her attempt to return to South Sudan, long-term stories that surpass “most horrific image competitions,” assignments in Nairobi and Congo, and an update on the plight of four-year-old Mohamed, who is stuck in Kenya, trying to reunite with his mother in the United States.
Guests: Jonathan Irish, Jillian Mann, Kyla Trethewey and Adriane Ohanesian
Photograph: Our Wild Abandon