Catching a train I had never been on. Discovering a route I never saw before. Crossing a country I had never visited. And then - whilst having all those unfamiliar landscapes and cityscapes pass by the window still only once - trying to create a distinctive photo series. That’s what I did in May 2018, when I travelled from New York to San Francisco by train. A non-stop, coast-to-coast trip of 4300 miles, spanning 11 states and 4 time zones.
The ‘Go West’ project is the follow up of ‘Lucky Shots’. For that photo series I investigated whether it’s still possible to make interesting images when leaving everything to chance. I crossed the Netherlands, my home country, by train for days and days and was exposed to a multitude of factors that were beyond my control and that ultimately created the images. Eventually, the shots turned out to be anything but coincidental.
I wanted to find out what would happen if I added new variables to the working method that I developed and perfected with ‘Lucky Shots’. Variables such as grand, wide landscapes, high mountains, endless plains, and special colors. But also different trains, that were driving at a slower speed, that made more turns, and that had tainted window glass. On top of all that, I added the disproportionate travel time. For ‘Lucky Shots’ I planned short travel days during each of the four seasons, for ‘Go West’ I spent four consecutive spring days in the train.
The photos that I took while training from New York to Denver were not that different from the images that I already made before, such as for example between the two Dutch cities of Rotterdam and Groningen. However, the moment ‘my’ train entered the Rocky Mountains, the parameters changed dramatically and enabled me to create ‘Go West’.