Aurora Photographer Michael Hanson recently took some time from his busy schedule to answer questions and talk about his upcoming book, Breaking Through Concrete.
Aurora Photos: Your photographs have you all over the world, how do you keep up with such a crazy travel schedule?
Michael Hanson: Lots of sticky notes on where to go next. I have struggle to be more organized than I naturally am to keep all the rental cars, flights, etc in order. I definitely travel differently than I did when I first started, but the anticipation and excitement of working outside the NW remains the same. I’ve become more targeted in my approach to a trip. I’m not wandering around aimlessly, though a huge part of me really misses that style. Photography is a key to people’s lives and homes. It’s an easy way to get access that other travelers don’t have, and I feel very fortunate to see other places and cultures through the camera. One thing the schedule has done has made part of me crave the Northwest and home. I love waking in my house and seeing my friends in Seattle, but after a short rest, I’m anxious to get back on the road. It’s a win-win, I guess.
A.P: You recently finished a study on Urban Farming, can you please share with us your experience and insight on this issue?
M.H: I was in Bolivia working on a project when news came in that the publisher had signed on to the idea of an urban farming ‘tour’ across the US. Immediately, we decided we couldn’t just drive a Subaru or a pickup truck to all these farms for 7 weeks; we had to do it with a certain style. In Bolivia, immaculate, white, retro-buses carry locals from one point to another. These buses are a brilliant white with an almost neon, summer popsicle colored stripe on the side. This inspiration led us to buy a short school bus which had been converted to an RV and ran on a combination veggie grease and diesel. We painted it white with a blue stripe on the side. We named him Lewis Lewis after a farming friend of ours who had recently passed away. We traveled for 7 weeks from Seattle to California across the Midwest to New Orleans and up the East Coast finally ending in Chicago. Each farm represents a different aspect of this urban farming movement. Some work with youth, some work with ex-incarcerated men and women, some are on rooftops, some are in the heart of a suburb and one was a collection of everyone’s yard. Of all the trips I’ve be lucky enough to be a part of, this remains at the top of the list. Every day was wild. I knew zero about diesel engines when we started and now I feel much more comfortable under the hood, or at least under the hood of a short school bus. I am sure that will come in handy again one day. Seriously though, sometimes the most adventurous trips aren’t in exotic locations or foreign countries. I can’t imagine a trip with more highs and lows, but I look back at this project as my favorite.
A.P: When will the book be Published and how can we find out more information about Urban Farming?
M.H: Breaking Through Concrete :: Building an Urban Farm Revival will be published in January 2012 by Univ. California Press. You can visit www.breakingthroughconcrete.com over the next few months as the website begins to get rebuilt in anticipation of the book release.