Who: "My name is Scott Toepfer, a photographer who currently finds himself in his home town of Los Angeles, CA. I've spent the last few years of my life testing the waters in many different cities, finding my way through this country both personally and professionally, to end up right where it all started. I try to focus more on content over the medium, and will use different films or digital processes depending on what the project or assignment calls for."
What: "My current project, It's Better In The Wind (www.itsbetterinthewind.com), is definitely the most ambitious project I've undertaken in the last 5 years. It's a journey, in the literal and metaphorical sense I guess, and revolves around a group of motorcycle riders traveling through the Western United States. We are immersed within the elements, taking in what we can, and trying to find some disorder in the modern social architecture. The project is being shot on black and white film, with the occasional color roll or polaroid, just to keep things interesting on the road."
Where: "The point is to cover as much ground as possible before my self-imposed deadline, at which point I will start printing until the fumes put me in the hospital. The project itself is largely centered around California, for a number of reasons. First, it is where we all call home, and a place we are all desperate to rediscover in a new state of mind. Secondly, it offers thousands of miles of highway and byways, with a diverse landscape. We've spent mornings in the desert, only to find ourselves in snow covered mountains in the afternoon. There are still over a thousand miles to cover before the shooting is finished, and I hope to spend time breathing air throughout the Western states."
When: "Now. Since picking up my 31 year old motorcycle in January, we've taken to the road, and I've started shooting, which will continue through July. I only have until the end of May to finish fundraising for the photobook, via the wonderful people at Kickstarter.com (http://kck.st/9i3Lbi). I hope to release the book at the end of Summer 2010 (funding permitting), along with a series of large (20") short run prints. The website is constantly being updated with new images from the trip(s), as well as video inspirations, and news from the marketing/promotions front. We have some exhibitions and openings lined up for the summer months as well, with thanks to Secret Service LA and THIS."
Why: "This would have to be the most important question, and it comes with a bit of a lofty answer. Most of the American youth, plugged into the digital way of life, grew up on wild stories from their parents and grandparents. Stories full of reckless adventure and soul searching without much else than crossed fingers and high spirits. I feel like we are so tuned in all of the time that we forget that there is a lot of life to be lived, and that there is no better way to find a future than to live in the present. We can't trek across the country to see Woodstock, especially when the closest thing to it costs hundreds of dollars for 3 days in the scorching desert. I would rather spend a week on the road in the same set of clothes with a bag of film and a blanket, listening to the stories of strangers as I pass through. No production crew, no support vehicles...just us and what we can manage to carry on a motorcycle."
How: "Don't be fooled, this project is costing me some money. Between film and gasoline, and some delicious diner food, it's not cheap. We've set up a couple of ways for our friends and fans to contribute, either via PayPal Donations, or the Kickstarter site. At the outset we tried to get some sort of sponsorship to get some of the production costs covered, but with the current state of finances, companies are wary of parting with money on such an experimental project. And, to be honest, it has actually spoken to the authenticity of the final product. The people who've supported the project know that they are going to get something pretty damn raw with my vision. I'm not concerned with somebody's helmet being scratched or their jacket logo obscured, I'm focused on the quality of the imagery, and the characters within."
"As for the final prints, I've built a darkroom out of a garage in Hollywood, a place where I can be alone to work on them, and make 'em sing. All of our donators are promised at least 5x7" print in exchange for their support. Kickstarter has some perks for larger donations, and I hope that we can at least meet our minimum goals within the last month of fundraising."
It's Better In The Wind
Scott G Toepfer
Red Letter Images