Photo Essay

Trucking across America

Dear Prudence

-What is your profession?

I'm a 51 year old long haul trucker and have been trucking for over 30 years. Currently I travel coast to coast pulling a tanker full of food "grade A" products such as milk, cream, liquid eggs, yeast and assorted juices. Driving on an average of 700 miles a day doesn't leave much time for sightseeing but I take advantage of every opportunity and stop I make to take pictures of the places and people I come across.

-Where do you do this?

Currently I live in Florida but work out of Northern California and travel all over the country primarily from Florida to California and the Midwest.

-Do you enjoy what you do?

I love what I do and can't imagine doing anything else. I started driving a truck out of high school in 1974 and with the exclusions of a couple of non related driving jobs I have been trucking my entire adult life! :)

-When you were young, what did you want to "be" when you grew up?

When I was 10 years old I lived with my grandmother and our next door neighbor was a trucker and would drive his truck home every night. I would love to hear him driving up the road and would run out to watch him pull his huge truck into his small front yard. Sometimes he would blow his horn and I was always fascinated by the big wheels and long trailer and would dream one day I could drive a big truck like he did!

-What are the most and least satisfying parts of your job?

The best part of my job is the people I meet and the independence I have. I enjoy taking pictures of people I meet on the road at truck stops, rest areas and restaurants all over America. Everyone I photograph becomes a friend and I think this is hard to beat. The freedom and independence come with a price though because many times a trucker is all alone to solve his or her own problems but with this added responsibility comes a feeling of pride and accomplishment that makes it all worth the struggles.

The hardest part as a long haul trucker is being away from your family 4 to 5 weeks at a time. The divorce rate for truckers is high and it takes a special woman and an understanding family to make this occupation a success. I have been blessed.

-How do you combine photography with your job?

I travel all day so my time is limited for sightseeing and when I stop for a break I always take my Nikon with me. I know this sounds dangerous to many and it would be if I was looking through the viewfinder while shooting but I preset my camera to around 50mm and focus to infinity and shoot with the camera pointed out in front of me while driving but not to obstruct my view. I try to capture the landscape I travel as the viewer would see it if he or she was in the driver's seat. No more difficult than drinking a cup of coffee! ; -)

35 responses

  • Selina Jackson

    Selina Jackson said (7 Oct 2008):

    Great story and wonderful pictures.

  • Deborah Downes

    Deborah Downes   gave props (15 Oct 2008):

    Wonderful story and amazing shots.

  • Max Janatsch

    Max Janatsch said (19 Oct 2008):

    I think your job is the best for seeing everything! Not very many people get the chance to drive from California to Florida, and for you to take pictures of some pretty sick things... MEGA PROPS!

  • Diane Tempest

    Diane Tempest said (23 Oct 2008):

    Love your story. Its so great to hear of a long haul trucker who loves his work. What a wonderful thing to travel across our beautiful country and capture it in all kinds of weather and light.

  • Nancy Richard

    Nancy Richard said (17 Nov 2008):

    Your story is fascinating. I know that trucking is a tough job and it takes a special person to do that job. You seem to be successful as a trucker and also a photographer. Congratulations!

  • Ros Dagos

    Ros Dagos said (22 Nov 2008):

    Absolutely a great job you have and the opportunities for photographying are just as great, bravo & keep sharing these fabulous photos.

  • Angki Purbandono

    Angki Purbandono gave props (1 Dec 2008):

    i love the horizon think

  • Eric Nattawut MatLue

    Eric Nattawut MatLue said (12 Dec 2008):

    i really love this story!

  • kounyia lo

    kounyia lo gave props (18 Dec 2008):

    i love this story. :D

  • Marc Stafford

    Marc Stafford said (22 Jan 2009):

    The love you have for your job is admirable and your photo talent is undeniable.

  • Kelly B

    Kelly B gave props (10 Feb 2009):

    Great story and photos. I thought about being a trucker a few times, but I really hate driving in winter lol. Thanks for sharing about your job!

  • Adriaan

    Adriaan gave props (11 Feb 2009):

    Great story and great pictures. keep on truckin'

  • Vince P. Garisto

    Vince P. Garisto gave props (11 Feb 2009):

    Some great shots "DUDE"

  • Thomas Dillon

    Thomas Dillon said (20 Apr 2009):

    I think you story is great, and I'm really glad you shared both it and your photos. Even more, though, I want to thank you for the part you play in getting our perishable liquids to market. I appreciate you and what you do, SF.

  • Gilbert Rondilla

    Gilbert Rondilla gave props (17 May 2009):

    Great story and photos :D i also do on-the-job photography :D i try to capture photos of my own when i visit our construction sites :D

  • Rey mos

    Rey mos gave props (20 May 2009):

    Thanks for sharing your job. It reminded of the TV series on Ice truckers crossing Canada lakes. All the best. Rey

  • D.A. Wagner

    D.A. Wagner gave props (24 Jul 2009):

    This interview is a window into your vision and style. Your work is as elegant and insightful as the best art photography in MoMA.

  • Camille Javal

    Camille Javal gave props (10 Aug 2009):

    What a great story! You have a way with words and some very good poetic liscense!

  • Mary Brown

    Mary Brown gave props (11 Aug 2009):

    How nice to hear of someone who really loves their job! You have a very positive attitude, which is very admirable! I loved your story and your pictures are gallery worthy.

  • Simon Sawyer

    Simon Sawyer gave props (8 Sep 2009):

    a really nice collection of images to document the landscapes & your journey through them

  • A. Selman Nur

    A. Selman Nur (Deleted) said (1 Oct 2009):

    congrats for the story. i read it and liked it.

    it's very good that you love your job (eventhough it's a hard job) and it gaves you lots of opportunities to take good photos.

  • Piotr Mlynarczyk

    Piotr Mlynarczyk (Deleted) said (13 Oct 2009):

    Great story.Last 2o years spend to work as tour bus driver in the West, CA, AZ, NV and just like you always OOT. Hard work, but the benefits of seeing magnificent views was there. My favorite was sunrise on I-40 between Kingman and Flagstaff in AZ. Really enjoyed the story and pictures as well. Keep it up and be careful out there!

  • Rachel Hartley-Smith

    Rachel Hartley-Smith said (6 Jan 2010):

    great stuff! :)

  • Rebecca Delekta

    Rebecca Delekta gave props (12 Jan 2010):

    You are inspiring. I love that you have found solace in your profession.

  • David Shults

    David Shults gave props (2 Mar 2010):

    this really blew me away. wow

  • Owen Richards

    Owen Richards   gave props (9 Mar 2010):

    Tkx for the story.

  • Away to noway

    Away to noway said (14 Mar 2010):

    when we are young we always, have a dream job....but rarely we acheive that dream.....its a great thing to acheive our dreams even if they are strange, to others........i really admire you for that, i also love the mixture of feelings you feel while driving in the beautiful desert surrounded by gradient colours of sky and earth.....beautiful essay, beautiful job and beautiful person you are.....

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (20 Dec 2010):

    Hell YEAH! Rad! Too bad I can't vote.

  • John Linton

    John Linton said (20 Dec 2010):

    I helped my son drive back east from San Diego (to Mount Pleasant, SC & then on to Westerly, RI) in a 10 ft. Budget rental truck. This photo essay reminds me of that trip. Wonderful shots.

  • Sayantani Chakrabarti

    Sayantani Chakrabarti (Deleted) said (12 Jan 2011):

    you have a peaceful affinity with the roads. it seems like you know them even if though you've not traveled through them. your ability to find solace and affection in your job through these magnificent journeys is simply divine. each of your journeys add to a new chapter in your life. and according to me...your life is a sum total of all these beautiful, tough, challenging and crazy journeys.

  • Chris Jennings

    Chris Jennings said (7 Feb 2011):

    I like every one of these images. Individually and even more as a set, they give me the feeling of the space, loneliness and awe of the open road. I am not American and I have a rather sedentary existence. I travel a lot, but just for a few weeks, once or twice a year. I have just come back from a six week roadtrip through the States. For that brief time I felt the intoxication that takes people to the road, an intoxication that I feel again looking at these photographs.
    Congratulations and thanks.

  • Prashant Gupta

    Prashant Gupta said (9 Mar 2012):

    Beautiful !!

  • Saroj Swain

    Saroj Swain gave props (7 Jul 2013):

    OUTSTANDING SHOTS and Photo Essay... Congrats my friend....

  • rekha nag

    rekha nag gave props (14 May 2014):

    What a wonderful story!! Have great respect for the truckers.They do a great job! Your shots reflect your passion and love for photography! Congrats and keep it up!!

  • Tim

    Tim said (13 Oct 2014):

    Great stuff. My older brother is a trucker. Became a driver in the Army ( Vietnam). Had his own truck for a while until it started nickel and diming him to death, then family ,etc. now drives for a company and is home most nights. Don't know how he did or you do it. More power to you

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