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.