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Photographer Takes 20,000 Mile Road Trip Around the US

By Hanssie on May 16th 2014

I took an involuntary cross country road trip once. I was fleeing from the East Coast during 2012’s Hurricane Sandy and was stuck in New York City with not a hotel, hostel or even a tent in sight. We had 4 days to get back to California and we rented a car and drove the 2,789.9 miles to get home. The days were unpleasantly long, and looking out the window during various points of the journey, I wished I had copious amounts of time to explore the landmarks that sped by.

Photographer Alexandre Ayer and his partner-in-crime, Emmanuel Solotareff,  a writer and director, took the ultimate road trip, exploring every corner of America in 2010. What started as a small adventure where one suggested to the other “let’s go shoot something,” turned into a 20,000 mile journey that spanned over three years. Solotareff wrote a script with the following guidelines: Alexandre had to man the camera, so Solotareff must be in front of it and the film had to be about nature.

And the film, ONE: The First Myth was born.

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With challenges ranging from being inexperienced campers (their tent almost flew off a cliff!), fending off wildlife getting stuck in the mud and shooting only using natural light, the two were challenged both physically and creatively. Using a skeleton crew of (mostly) just the two of them and only limited gear and lighting, Ayer and Solotareff,  filmed hours of footage (and thousands of stills) to tell their story.


alexandre-ayer-6 alexandre-ayer-5 alexandre-ayer-4 alexandre-ayer-3 alexandre-ayer-2 alexandre-ayer-1 swamp Apalachicola, Florida, USA

The two ended up in some of the most breathtakingly beautiful landscapes in the country, from Zion National Park to  Joshua Tree to White Sands National Monument and beyond. Here’s a map of their route:

Itinerary. ONE: The First Myth.

Gear List:

Canon 5D Mark II body (3 batteries)
Canon 16-35mm f2.8 L II USM
Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM
Zeiss Planar 50mm f1.4 ZE
Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L IS USM II
Canon Extender EF 2X II
SLIK Pro 700 DX tripod
Manfrotto 701HDV head
1m Glidetrack (also used as a makeshift shoulder mount)
Zacuto viewfinder
UV filters on lens to protect them (a lot of dust and dirt in the desert!)
Circular Polarising filter
Fader ND Mark II Vari-ND filter for video
Remote for Timelapse
Lowepro Bag

ONE: The First Myth Kickstarter Project

According to their Kickstarter Page, ONE: The Fist Myth is “is about the birth of ego. It is a mythological tale, a reinterpretation of the history of Mankind, told through the journey of a man and his relationship to Nature. It is the allegorical story of Man, living in perfect harmony with his surroundings, until the day this fragile balance is broken by his becoming self-aware for the first time. This event will bring about profound consequences, such as the invention of art, the advent of worship and idolatry, and set the foundation of future civilization.

Their project is now in post production and they are seeking funding through their Kickstarter campaign to complete the film. They are about one third of the way funded, so go check out more about the film and the pair HERE. You can find out more about Alexandre Ayers work on his website.

CREDITS: Photographs by Alexandre Ayers are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.


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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Greg Silver

    Would absolutely love to do this in Canada!

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  2. Beer Growls

    One big mix of american dream clichees. I’ve seen this scenario multiple times allready.

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    • Hanssie

      It’s nice to see people fulfill their dreams, isn’t it?

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    • Not you

      So you contribute only ironically condescending negativity while serving as grammar’s bltch. Is that you, Matthew Saville?

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