Three men in uniform stand in the nmiddle of a street in a photograph taken with an old film camera with a handmade lens. Three men in uniform stand in the nmiddle of a street in a photograph taken with an old film camera with a handmade lens.

Ride Slow. Take Pictures.

Erik Mathy is a photographer who bicycles. Or maybe he’s a bicyclist who takes pictures. Or perhaps he could be best described as a roaming photojournalist, shooting on film and using vintage equipment and handmade lenses to bring traditional craft and art to modern subject matter. In any event, he rode his bike from San Francisco to Tucson, Arizona, lugging 40 pounds of photo and camping gear, and Adobe Create followed along.

For this project, Erik shot on black and white x-ray film loaded into an odd-format Graflex Speed Graphic press camera. Erik constructed the lenses out of affordable glass elements rolled in a lens tube made of dollar bills. The resulting images can be ghostly, unpredictable, and often quite lovely.

On previous trips, Erik had ridden Route 66 and the Tour Divide. This time Erik chose a 1,250-mile segment of the historic Butterfield Overland Mail Route. The original was a transit route of sorts, winding through frontier outposts and towns that later became hubs of migration. One stretch dipped into Mexico, and today that segment is a highly patrolled border, with a twenty-foot-high barrier across parts of it. Many of the Butterfield locations are now hotbeds for issues around immigration. Erik set out to explore this route and meet the people who live and work along it, conducting interviews and capturing portraits along the way.

The video below is a trailer for an upcoming longer-form film.

Click the image above to watch the trailer.

Credits: Directed by: Dan Cowles
Executive Producer, Zero One: Colin McAuliffe 
Editor: Julien De Benedictis
Produced by:  Michelle Mahoney, Clark Todd, Summer Wilson
Director of Photography: Colin McAuliffe
Additional Cinematography: Dan Cowles and Matt Clarke
Aerial cinematography: Ian Webb and Kodiak Drewry
Audio: Greg Miller, Omid Amjadi
Production Assistant: Robert Rivers
Music: “Hopefulessness” by Courtney Barnett