A Man With A Camera Trying To Connect America

 

Excerpt from

Driving into the Sunset

Book By Todd R. Forsgren

 

‘That summer of 2015, I had just become a father. I was also given the camera that I used to take these photos (a 35mm camera from my father, that his father had given him). At the end of the series, in January of 2021, I turned forty years old, with exponentially more gray hair than I had at the beginning of the period and inescapably middle-aged.

The camera is a Leica M2 with a nice fast 35mm f/1.4 lens that my dad hadn’t used since I was a toddler. It was completely jammed, so I took it to a surly old repairman in a suburban strip mall on the outskirts of Baltimore. His wife flirted with me as he complained about what a pain in the ass it was to repair old cameras like mine. The shop was a mess: a graveyard of broken cameras that hadn’t been moved in decades. Everything was covered in a film of grease and lube and there was a faint odor of burnt-out electrical components.

When I came to pick up the repaired camera, he curtly replied that if he had known how bad it was jammed up, he wouldn’t have even accepted the job.”

 

Since 2015, I’ve traveled to 40 of the 50 states, lived on both coasts and finally found what I hope will be my home for decades to come here in Montana. I’ve driven over 100,000 miles by car, either criss-crossing the country in search of a new home or commuting to work. I’ve hiked miles of remote trails and walked even more miles pushing my daughter’s stroller around the neighborhood or teaching her how to ride her scooter. 

Today, our country is perhaps more divided than ever… Sliced into red and blue states, rich and poor, urban and rural, black and white. We’ve witnessed the rise and fall (?) of Donald Trump’s unlikely political career and the COVID-19 pandemic. But these photographs aren’t made to dwell on those divisions, but rather to try to create connections in this strange and divided country of mine. A country I love very much. 

I hope that I’ve come to understand America better through photography, fatherhood, travel, and teaching over the past five years. Today we are turning a new page in American history. And I’m turning a new page in my life (after all, I turn 40 next week). So, I’m hanging up that Leica to start working on something new. 

Todd R. Forsgren, January 20th, 2021

 

Driving into the Sunset is a 160-page book of photographs by Todd R. Forsgren; the handmade book is post bound with a letterpress cover and 135 black-and-white 35mm photographs that reflects on the American road trip and divisions facing the country. It’s a limited edition book, just 100 copies, at 17"x11" and selling for $100.

 

Todd R. Forsgren uses photography to examine themes of ecology, climate change, perceptions of landscape, and social justice while striving to strike a balance between art history and natural history. To do so, he employs a range of approaches, from documentary strategies to experimental techniques. 

Todd lives in Billings, Montana.  He teaches at Rocky Mountain College where he also serves as the director of the Ryniker-Morrison Gallery.  Todd is a member of Spectacle Box, AgX, Atlantika Collective, f/4.5 Collective and MIXX. He studied biology and visual arts at Bowdoin College and has a MFA in photography from J.E. Purkyne University. Todd was an artist-in-residence at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, the Artist’s Enclave at I-Park, and Maryland Hall for Creative Arts as well as a Fulbright Fellow in Mongolia. 

 

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