back to journal

Mike Metcalf

When Mike Metcalf and I first met in college I think we shared a mutual disregard for each other. Inevitably, we hung out with the same crowds and shared similar off-beat interests that it wasn’t long before we became good friends. I started following Mike’s tumblr years ago which archives his short stories and disposable photographs taken of the upper peninsula throughout the years. I would always ask him “when are you getting a REAL camera?” and he would reply that he didn’t need one. And he was right.

This past summer he drove across the United States and made frequents stops along the way to visit friends and explore places in search of a new home.

yosemite national park

I started taking disposable photographs in the fall of 2011 as a way to document my life without having to spend too much money. I thought after a couple years, I would upgrade to a higher quality camera but all I found was that the eye can be upgraded to work with with what little is given equipment-wise. Minimalism is something I tackle in all my work whether it’s photography, music, or writing. I even try to live day to day with a minimalist attitude. My living spaces have always been sparse because I’d rather spend more time decorating my thoughts and ideas rather than what people see.

conor in groveland, california

The photos I took on this expedition were meant to serve as pin points in my memory; places I hope to go back to someday and spend more time in. I only had two months to do this entire venture, unfortunately I wasn’t able to fully explore many of the sites I saw.

en route to san francisco

If there is any lesson I took from the first leg of my voyage, it’s that no matter how far apart our ideals or different our physical surroundings are, we are all the same in so many ways. We all still deal with heartache, empathy, happiness, nervousness, hunger, etc. It’s been hard to get upset over what’s going on in Americas current events these days because I know that they don’t represent the same country I saw. After spending a couple months on the road, I know that the citizens living here are so much better than the small fraction of people who think they’re making a difference from a small office out east.

the mohave desert

Favorite place you visited on your trip?
I really enjoyed Groveland, California where my friend, Conor, lives. It’s a small town tucked away in the mountains outside of Yosemite. During the summer, there’s a lot of tourists but I was visiting in October when it was mostly locals. The Mojave desert, Montana, and Southern Oregon were rad too.

One book and one film recommendation:
‘Cathedral’ by Raymond Carver is one of my favorite books. I don’t watch many films but I recently re-watched the ‘Nymphomaniac’ movies, those are good.

Follow along:

read next

Calvin Stark