Photography has come a long way from the print film days. Remember when you had to buy the film, shoot the pictures, take the roll somewhere and then wait for them to get developed? What a pain! These days, we just point and shoot, and instantly see the results. And, if you don’t like the picture, just hit delete and try again. Because if these modern conveniences, many drivers are great photographers these days. This year, in memory of my best friend Bette Garber, instead of a photo contest, I decided to contact a few photographers and showcase some of their spectacular photos in her honor.
Sadly, there are a lot of drivers who have no idea who Bette was. She was a photojournalist for the trucking industry for nearly 30 years. Bette loved the trucks she shot, be it at a show or standing along an interstate, but she loved the drivers of those trucks even more. The individuality of the driver makes the truck. She would write about company drivers, too, as we all have a story to tell when we live on the road.
We lost Bette eleven years ago this month but, with the help of 10-4 Magazine, each year I get to introduce her to more new drivers and remember her with her family and the others who loved her. Bette used to ride with me to take stock photos for her business, Highway Images, and she encouraged me with my photography and writing. She is missed, but I think she would love the trucking photographers of today. For that reason, I want to highlight a few whose work has caught my eye. Keep shooting and keep sharing!
Some of the new Facebook groups are amazing, and I want to thank my friend Wendy Wilfong for asking me to join the group “A-Frame Pics” that Brent Collins started two years ago. There are several photographers in that group that are taking some great pictures on the road. I wish I could feature all of them, but I only have room for a few.
First off, I would like to not only highlight Tony Ariesen and his work, but also thank him for being the inspiration for me changing my format up this year. After a serious accident in 2001, Tony changed professions after being off work for two years. He went to truck driving school and then bought two trucks when he graduated. In 2008, because of the recession, he sold the trucks and moved from Ontario, Canada, west to British Columbia, Canada, where the scenery is as amazing as Tony’s pictures.
Brent Collins has been driving for 23 years, pulling a dump bucket for most of his career. He rode with his uncle Floyd “Junior” Handshoe when he was young, and he was Brent’s idol, mentor and hero until he passed away just before Christmas 2001. Floyd drove an impressive 56 years without an accident. If it wasn’t for trucking, Brent told me that photography would be his dream job. Trucking gives him the chance to get some awesome shots out on the road now, but maybe one day he can make his dream job a full-time reality.
June Woolford has been a driver for 29 years, with her first 15 spent trucking in Europe. She has enjoyed taking pictures since childhood, and cameras on phones has made it a lot easier. She moved to Canada 14 years ago and trucked in Canada and the U.S. for a while. Now, she owns her second truck and runs team with her boyfriend from the east coast of New Brunswick to Vancouver, British Columbia. This route gives her some spectacular places to take some awesome pictures.
Driver Brad Russell of Tulare, CA recently posted a picture that reminded me so much of Bette, I had to include it. Bette loved to shoot night shots with her star filter, which gave the lights an exaggerated shine. Although Brad did not use a star filter, he did capture a cool night shot of Chad Iosco’s Kenworth in front of an old Texaco sign. Of course, every great picture has a story behind taking it. Since he had left his camera at home, Brad borrowed one from a friend, Alan Koch. They put a 2×4 across some cones, and then Brad put his wallet under the lens for a little elevation. Manipulating his settings, instead of using the star filter, gave Brad the same results Bette would have had! It was truck pics that kept Brad trucking when he was ready to quit after his dad passed away in 2007. Getting his start in a 1-ton tow truck, Brad went on to operate cement mixers and pulled walking floor trailers. But, for the past 20 years, he has made a career out of hauling automobiles.
Fernando Renard was born in Chile and his family migrated to the U.S. in 1971 when he was six years old. His dad was a trucker, and every summer he would ride along with him on his trips from Long Beach, CA to Houston, TX. But, like most dads, he discouraged Fernando from becoming a truck driver. In 2000, he decided to go to truck driving school, saying, “This looks like fun.” And it was! He’s been hauling oversize for the last six years, pulling a double-drop. Six years ago, Fernando started taking pictures when he got his first smart phone. Bette used to say that you don’t need a great camera if you have a good eye, and I think it’s safe to say that Fernando has a good eye.
We live our lives on the road, and today it is easier than ever before to take pictures to remember and share the places we see along the way. Steve Wariner sings the song “Life’s Highway” and the lyrics could not be more perfect to sum up the life of a trucker. “Sun is up, time’s at hand, there’s a stir upon the land. And so begins, another day, on life’s highway. On city streets, down country roads, like a stream the people flow. There’s bread to win, and tolls to pay, on life’s highway. There is hope with every turn, a bridge to build, a bridge to burn. It’s open new, never go astray, on life’s highway. We are young, and then we’re old, passin’ through then passin’ on. Like the roses bloom and fade, on life’s highway. Step by step, round and round, never knowing where we’re bound. From the cradle, to the grave, on life’s highway.”
Life is short. I suggest that you take a different road, one that you’ve never traveled before. See something new, have some fun and take a picture. Capture that beautiful sunrise or sunset, because there will never be two the same. Photograph the full moon, the tight dock you just wiggled your trailer in to or just take selfies with friends, old and new, because you never know if or when you might see them again.
These photographs you take will become treasures one day, as you look back through at all the miles you drove, and remember all the great times you had along the way. Happy shooting!