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When they began their road trip from Boston to Los Angeles, Nick Vigue, a college senior and professional photographer, and Douglas Emerson, a recent college dropout and founder of a commercial production company, decided that they wanted to use the journey to create something they had never tried before, a hybrid project with photo and film that found room to celebrate both.
After meeting in college and then living together throughout their junior year, Nick and Douglas decided it was time to make some serious career moves. Douglas had been running his production company, C49, whilst at Emerson College in Boston. Nick had been pushing his photography brand, EnvyLife, while he was at Emerson as well. They both decided that if they were serious about their art, they needed to move to Los Angeles and try to make a run at the industry. So they both took a leave of absence, Nick with the intention of coming back in the following spring, Douglas with no plans of returning.
They packed their bags and departed Boston with one mission: create something beautiful before they got to LA. Then a week later, they arrived at their new house in Hollywood… they had accomplished their mission.
Words and photos by Douglas Emerson and Nick Vigue
Where were you planning on going?
Nick: When I was young, my family always loved the outdoors. Most of our vacations wereroad trips to campgrounds up in the mountains somewhere. My dad showed me the beauty of hiking up beautiful summits and the feeling of being top of the world. I will never stop pursuing it. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to see the Grand Tetons. Up until this trip, I had never seen anything further west then upstate New York.
Douglas: The main goal was to get to the Grand Tetons and camp for a few days. I grew up in Park City, Utah, so I’ve always loved mountains, but I’d never been to the Tetons. And, as much as I love the midwest and eastern landscapes, I had just been in the midwest for 20 days on a documentary shoot and had lived on the east coast for the past 3 years. I was craving something new and the Grand Teton’s was that for me.
Why not fly? What do you think is important about road trips?
Nick: There is something important about seeing the entire country that you identify with. America, being so large and so different across the board, is a driving adventure that I’ve thought about for a long time. Whether your stopping in all the states or crushing 15 hour days, there is just something powerful about seeing the ground of your country from coast to coast. I think seeing and experiencing all parts of our country is a vital part of being an American Photographer. I also think it’s an important part of just being American and finding your identity within a country of so many people.
What sparked the final idea and format?
Douglas: It was our last night in the Teton’s and we were leaving the next day. Up to that point, nothing had really felt authentic. We had tried a couple ideas but nothing was sticking, so we decided to take the night off. We lit a campfire and were just listening the the forest, when suddenly I was struck with an idea. I literally jumped off the bench, looked at Nick and said, “I got it. We’re going to need your car. I’ll build the camera”. For me, I always get my best ideas when I just sit still. It’s like the water clears and I see what I need to see.
Nick: I want to continue to see the great landscapes that our country and world has to offer. My curiosity will continuing to explore and push me to achieve the photographs I’ve always dreamed about. Ultimately I’m doing this because everyone needs see the true life and beauty this world has to offer, it’s the only way to connect them to it, and influence them to protect it. Photography and filmmaking, in my opinion, is the most powerful way to give a voice to our Earth. It’s important that creators continue to document our world to archive the changes it’s going through. To show the future generations what we used to be.
Douglas: To be honest, I’m not sure. But I don’t say that in an “I don’t know” way, but rather “I’ll find out” way. I think planning too far ahead is kind of pointless. There is so much variability in our world and, at the end of the day, the only thing we really have is right now. If we find our inner compass and make the best decisions in the moment, in every moment, then it’s impossible to live a life you regret. This also means understanding that life is about change, and pain and loss are an equally important parts of the equation. Everything comes as it is, but as long as you know your direction, you’ll make it through. I think I’ve found my direction now, so it’s just about keeping the pace.
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