South of Gueydan, LA, 8/16
This photograph was made on a summer photography trip to Cameron and Vermilion parishes, the southwest corner of Louisiana, in August of 2016.
I've made a lot of trips to this area specifically in August, when the incredible heat, humidity, and haze, along with the flat, minimalist landscape, can put a lone traveler through the area in a kind of trance; a drive east from Cameron to Pecan Island on Route 82 takes you through what is known as Louisiana's Outback, a long stretch of highway across the coastal plain, mostly through endless wetlands and prairie, that is mesmerizing for anyone seeking a calming escape. I've made the drive many times, and when the highway turns north again and I start approaching Abbeville, it feels like I'm coming out of a time warp and slowly resurfacing in civilization.
The day this photograph was taken, I had just completed one such trip around what I call the "loop" of rural highways that makes a good day-long trek through southwest
Louisiana's coastal zone and the Outback. Thunderstorms are a daily occurrence in August in southwest Louisiana, and I spent most of the day watching this one out of the corner
of my eye, where it always seemed 20-30 miles away, but slowly growing larger as the day went on. I was hoping to slip by south of it as I drove back to Lake Arthur, where I was staying for the night, but when I stopped south of the small town of Gueydan for a few photos, the storm suddenly exploded in size and caught me completely off guard. I turned around to this sight after a sudden, very loud clap of thunder, raised the camera, and made the capture. I quickly got back in the car and headed north on the road you see, hoping to make a quick left at Gueydan and speed west away from the storm, but it caught up with me just west of the town, on a highway with a ditch on either side and no place to pull over, making for an incredibly scary drive as I made my way back to Lake Arthur, through a blinding downpour and constantly flashing lightning, knowing there was no safe way to get off the road and wait it out. Either I drove out of the storm or it burned itself out, but by the time I got back to Lake Arthur the evening sun was shining, while what was in the rear view mirror looked as dark as night.
I wound up with not too bad a photograph that was one of my favorites from this particular trip, and the lesson learned never to take chances with summer thunderstorms in south Louisiana. As far as I can remember, this is the only photograph I've taken when I was scared.
Although I've photographed a lot of different things and places, the photographs here are chosen because they come from the heart of my work and are centered on the area most of it is dedicated to: the Louisiana coast. Since I was a teenager, I've had a dream of photographing all of Louisiana's coastal zone, which is a place I've been fascinated by long before I lived in Louisiana and was actually able to start this long-term, ongoing project. In some ways I've been able to live that dream though I consider it a project I'm never really going to finish with, since the coast is in a constant state of change, and I keep revisiting various parts of it documenting the subtle changes it keeps going through. I have been trying for years to have a portion of this collection published in book form, and though I've come close a few times, I'm still looking for a way.