A Life on the Road
John (johnSmiley1321k) has a soul deeply sensitive to the fragilities of life and is profoundly appreciative because of it. Working as a truck driver for 22 years on the open roads, he’s had both the good fortune to encounter magnificent scenery and wildlife, and the misfortune to sit in sometimes endless hours of traffic.
Along the way, he’s also been the unwitting spectator of human tragedy. Irrespective of circumstance, it’s important for him to traverse his days with an outward smile.
“I had a dispatcher once and I was her ‘go to guy’ to get the job done and I (almost) always did it with a smile. She gave me the nickname “JohnSmiley” and I‘ve had it for over seven years now.”
John has an exceptional eye for capturing life through a lens and has amassed a plethora of incredible images to admire. He uses text space to describe moments from his days and, on occasion, he laces in perfectly dry dark humour ensuring his Blips are as entertaining to read as they are visually appealing.
In the course of his job, John has witnessed homelessness, potential human trafficking, drugs and crime. “I’ve seen some horrific wrecks over the years, some before the cops show up. The one that impacted me the most was seeing a fatality involving three teenagers. I was one of the first driving by and just one officer was there. I will remember the look on his face forever.”
The emotional echo resonating through one’s own psyche after experiencing grim real life imagery is not difficult to comprehend. Perhaps it’s not surprising that he turns to the environment to capture the positives of our world with powerful, full colour shots of outstanding natural beauty.
Origins of His Photography
It was in his early teens that John first owned a camera; photography becoming a keen interest until life altered his path and he set the hobby aside.
“I was 14 when I saved up enough money to buy a Pentax K1000 that I still have. This was my first real camera. I took the camera with me to an international youth camp on the Black Sea when the country was the USSR. This blip entry has the article a local paper did about me. I could’ve done so many things after that. At the age of 17, my life took a U-turn; I pretty much drifted along until, one day, a person asked me what I love to do. ‘Driving’ was my answer.”
Becoming a Blipper
John became aware of Blipfoto through an existing user. “Clare (tookie) is a dear family friend that my mom first met when she was driving a school bus. She has always loved photography and there are no words to describe how much Clare has been a part of my life over the last 40 years. It wasn’t until 2014, at the urging of Clare, that I picked up the camera seriously again and started chronicling my life on the road on Blip.”
Delicate Nature of Life
Not all of John’s Blips pertain to his lifestyle of course. Some days just don’t seem to offer a worthy photo opportunity – but that doesn’t mean to say that you can’t find something to make someone else smile… For example, not all animals live outdoors…
“At this point it’s primarily birds and flowers but who knows what tomorrow may bring. They’re so delicate… I think it’s a great reminder that life is precious and we need to embrace it. I photograph the beauty around me. When I was on the road, Blip gave me the incentive I needed to walk and really see everything. “
Challenges to Capturing Daily Photographs
Life on the road offers such diversity of scenery; the subject matter is plentiful, although it can certainly pose unusual challenges to daily snapshots.
“When I was on the road I would say my personal security was a challenge as I was in many places you don’t flash expensive camera equipment. And the weather, of course (-25F in Montana, 115F in Arizona.) Today, being a local driver (Washington and Oregon, which allows me to be home most nights), I would say finding the time can be a challenge. My cellphone has helped me a lot. Many times, when I have 5minutes here and there, I’m on Blip or looking for a Blip.”
When asked if there was any advice he would like to offer fellow Blippers, he explained that it’s just ok to frequently take shots of the same subject.
“Keep it fun, keep smiling and even if it’s the same bird for the 39,000thtime, you’re both having a different day. Find your passion and run with it.”
John lives in the Seattle area in Washington State, USA
Cover photo: “Ghost” by John
Photo links selected and remarks collected by Joanne Glover (aka JoeyG on Blipfoto), another member of the Bliposse group of volunteer writers.