16 Film Photos From a Two-Month Road Trip in the Mountain West
Reflecting on the freedom of a summer past, spent salvaging cheap point and shoots and exploring in Wyoming & Idaho with trusted friends
Minolta Freedom Dual 35mm
“Looking back on this carefree summer, the inherent privilege of having the freedom and flexibility to travel freely, without fear, for months on end is more clear than ever amid COVID and the BLM Movement. I wish everyone could have an experience like this. Recognizing the inequality that surrounds us is only a start—we must come together to make these freedoms accessible to all.”
-- Words from the author, Brian Chorski
There’s an intimacy embedded in these photographs that I wasn’t able to create on my $3,000+ digital setup, but a slew of $5 point-and-shoot pieces of plastic somehow did the job.
The Mountain West has always had a gravitational pull on me. But I wasn’t close enough to it in San Francisco. So, during the summer of 2019 I packed up my life belongings—plus 10 rolls of Ektar—into a 2001 Buick sedan (with bright blue duct tape holding up the rear window) and went for a drive.
For the better part of this past summer I explored and enjoyed the splendors of this breathtaking region. And I think I slept in my hammock for 45 nights over the course of two months, but who’s really counting.
"I’ve stopped chasing 'perfect' and started relishing life’s perfectly imperfect moments."
Having been previously limited to shorter stints in the backcountry due to a less-than-flexible 9–5 schedule, I rarely felt an immense pressure to come away from the trip with incredible images. I was free to live—and free of past expectations I had created for myself. I had moved beyond my self-imposed creative confines—the perfect place to be in Big Sky Country and among the open road.
Now, Wyoming and Idaho are home to some breathtaking terrain. Anyone is capable of creating beautiful photographs here. In the face of this, some of my personal favorite moments captured include top-of-the-pass PB+Js, less-than-olympic-level leaps into alpine lakes, and rocking the kookiest mosquito nets of all time on my 25th birthday in the Wind River Range. I hold onto these moments and coinciding friendships dearly.
"Admittedly, there was a point in my life when I would deprioritize friendships for the sake of perfect photographs—and I lost myself in the process."
Admittedly, there was a point in my life when I would deprioritize friendships for the sake of perfect photographs—and I lost myself in the process. I grew a much fonder appreciation for life’s subtleties and abnormalities on this trip, and I credit a lot of this fresh perspective to those $5 pieces of Minolta plastic, found at a variety of thrift stores along the way. I’ve since stopped chasing “perfect” and started relishing life’s perfectly imperfect moments.
Film has truly been a revolutionary medium for me. I’ve recently rediscovered moments from the past couple of years that I hardly even remember because I was so immersed in them. I look back at these images with an immeasurable gratefulness for simply having had these shared life experiences with some of my favorite humans. The smells, sounds, people, and feelings preserved in these types of photographs are the best gift I could ever have—knowing that I’ve truly lived.
"Wyoming and Idaho are home to some breathtaking terrain. Anyone is capable of creating beautiful photographs here."