Tag Archives: Creativity

Woods Wheatcroft – Bikes, Boards, Booze & Blanca!

Van camping at dawn in the deserts of southeastern Oregon.
12:30 pm, October 22nd 2018, Sandpoint, Idaho.  Bikes, Boards, Baggage, Booze, and Bodies. The van is loaded and pulling out of port.  The direction is unknown. Agenda, equally obscure. And we like it. An intentionally agendaless journey is new but not unfamiliar.  Being late October, the internal compass says we aim south to capture any shred of warmth still remaining in the low, angling sun. Suzanne, co-pilot and partner of nearly a decade, settles in with our new pup Suki and van life begins again.
Adult couple playing with their puppy in the glow and color of dawn while van camping in the desert of southeastern Oregon.
With life as layered and busy as it is, sliding in behind the wheel of Blanca (a 1999 VW Eurovan, current odometer reading 415,567, about half of that mine)  has become my antidote to busyness. Somehow just getting out of town without too many crab claws (loose ends that grab you and keep you from leaving) is a success. We drive a mere 4 hours from home and find camp. Darkness falls. Tequila falls… into empty, receptive cups. A crisp IPA is cracked. Cooking a meal is a relatively low priority on night one as we bask in the excitement of being on the road, buoyed by a full moon dancing behind an eerie cloud cover and an opportunity to light paint.
Twilight glow and van camping in the mountains of Idaho.
Our course meanders over days through the interior of Idaho, discovering remote vacant hot springs and uncrowded backroad locales that allow for maximum freedom. We are both surprised by the impact of wildfires as we snake our way toward Stanley Idaho, skirting the south edge of the Frank Church Wilderness (still the largest wilderness in the lower 48). I stop to capture the scene but the record-keeping-moment soon transforms to a painterly one. The landscape has become a quilt of life and death, blackened Standing Lodgepole Pine mixed with green regenerating ground cover and hints of fall color, divided by a bending deep blue ribbon of water. It’s raw and captivating.
An above perspective of a burned forest area with some vegetation regrowing and a river running through it. South Fork Salmon River, Idaho.
As we continue to surrender to the moment and try not get too far ahead of ourselves, it’s already day 5 of our 9 day trip. What is our plan? Where are we going? Our minds drift. We look at weather reports. Sun and warmth are desirable. We head West. More specifically, we drive towards the wide open space of southeastern Oregon where the population density is 2 humans per 500 cows per 100 square miles or something like that. Who cares about stats, it’s expansive and definitely pulls us into that feeling. That feeling of remoteness. Planetary if you will.
Adult woman soaking naked in a hot springs somewhere in Idaho.
One thing I have realized in my travels with Blanca in the West is that it’s not for everyone.  I like it that way. I can tell it’s not for everyone because I hardly see anyone else out in the places I choose to go. I have learned it through my own experience and taking to heart the advice of  Edward Abbey when it comes to dirt roads and exploration and getting “out there.”
Self portrait self timer of adult man standing silhouetted against a wide open desert landscape. southeastern Oregon.
So one may ponder and wonder, this all sounds way too leisurely to qualify as work. How are you able to hit the road and just be free for days on end? The answer is choice.  As a kid born into a line of inveterate travelers, it has become a choice and not anything based on luck or social status or anything else. It’s my work. It’s my life. I continue to make the choice. There is compromise for sure. There are also perspectives and responses I have endured over the years from “oh you are so lucky” to “must be nice” to “only wealthy people travel.” And yet my hope and goal in all of it is not to boast or display nor is it to amass an Insta following or assemble any cult. It is to share and inspire. It is for my children to see how their father lives and engage them in life on the road. It is for my friends to be stoked and curious and ask where is that, how do I get there. My intent is simply not to lead by example but to live by it.
Puppy leaning her head out the window of a moving vehicle and into the wind while her mom holds her and laughs. Idaho.
View front and back out of the side view mirror while driving down a dirt road in the desert. Oregon.
two humans doing long shadow play in a vast open space in the desert while van camping. Oregon
Portrait of an adult couple raising their cups for a cheers in the middle of nowhere. The couple have on clay face masks for a spa treatment. Oregon.
  See more of Woods' images here!

Staying Creative with Woods Wheatcroft

For the past ten years, Woods Wheatcroft has been delivering unique images with a singular vision and heartfelt creativity to Aurora Photos. Woods' work blends humor, sentiment, spirit, and spontaneity in a style that stands out from the pack. Recently Woods passed the 3000 image mark in the highly curated Aurora Collection -- a testament to both his longevity and the quality of his photography. We took the occasion to ask Woods about his style and the methodology that brought him from 0 to 3000.

Click here to see a selection of the "Best Of" Woods Wheatcroft OR browse all of Woods' 3000 images.

Aurora Photos: Your body of work is an interesting balance between candid found moments and situations that you create, and yet your style is consistent through and through. How do you maintain that consistent style when shooting with these different methods?

Woods Wheatcroft: The consistency of style and the blending of the methods is a result of trusting my eye and plaicng myself in situtations that ring true to me. For example, I stopped shooting sporting events because there is no reflective truth in the subject matter for me any longer... Candid moments are about being prepared and sometimes lucky and trusting that the moment that happens is front of me is the one intended for me to capture. The candid moments find me like they find anyone else. Being ready, having your camera with you and timing are all crucial ingredients. In the situations that I create, I work with close friends and willing creative people to create a controlled environment then allow it to come apart. As the controlled arena dissolves, there are inherently candid moments. Those are the ones I'm after.

[Au]: In addition to humor, there is a heartfelt sentimentality to much of your work. What other messages or meaning do you try to convey through your pictures?

WW: I like to generate an element of comfort in my pictures, trust if you will. I like the subject to be comfortable, open, free, trusting. I consider myself an affable person. Make people feel comfortable in front of the camera and that translates to how the photo, the moment, the image feels in the end. You can always spot discomfort and stiffness... I believe as photographers we can break that down. We have our tools. So when you ask about other messages and meaning in my photography words that come to mind include: lighthearted, openness, free spirited, fun and genuine.

Little boy, age 5 flying a paper airplane in a big wide open field.

[Au]: Can you talk a little bit about your process -- when you are coming up with a concept for a set of images, how much of the shoot is scripted or really planned out for a given situation. How much improvisation happens in the course of shooting? Are you ever surprised by the results?

WW: I create a controlled creative space at first and then bust out from there. So it is scripted in some sense, in that i provide the scenarios, but really truly I am after the in between moments as it either comes together or breaks apart. Thee is always lots of improvisation. Tons. I'm after the surprise, so yes, I am always surprised by the results.

[Au]: Your photographic style is distinctive. I feel like when I'm looking through the Aurora archive, I can spot a Woods Wheatcroft photo almost immediately among other images. What advice would you have for other photographers on developing and nurturing their own style?

WW: Do your best to create the most honest reflection of how you see the world through how you live your life. Share this truth and intimacy. Many of my photos look very genuine...that's because they are...and that's because what i am doing or what someone very close to me is doing at that time is really what is happening!! And of course, the advice I was given a long time ago... Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot. One of the only ways I see to hone your style is to practice and for photographers that means shooting. A lot. A style will eventually rise to the top of the pile.

A couple on a tandem bike.

[Au]: You did a great portrait project of people and their bikes. Do you have a favorite bike story?

WW: There's no one favorite bike story other than the fact that the longer I worked on the bike project, the longer it took to get a portrait. I really started to get to know the people and it was an awesome feeling to dive in and befriend total strangers on their bikes and celebrate a mutual love of the freedom of two wheels.

[Au]: If you weren't making pictures, what would you be doing?

WW: If I weren't making pictures I would be making something else: food, art, shelter, friends, memories, and more experiences that take me down this precious road of life.

Click here to see a selection of the "Best Of" Woods Wheatcroft

Click here to browse all of Woods' 3000 images