[ « View all Press Articles ]

April 14, 2005
Press Articles :: Airstream life


 Reprinted from Airstream Life Magazine - Spring 2005 

...People in the Headlights 
By Robyn Dochterman







Since Wally Byam was selling $5 plans in the 1930s, Airstreamers have felt a powerful urge to pack pu and head out. Whether to a campground across town, or the far reaches of the world, the need to see what lies over the next hill has a powerful pull.

The urge to tell stories about those travels is nearly as timeless and universal. Any experience – seeing bison, fixing a flat tire or meeting a small-town character – is better when it’s shared.

It has become popular for aluminum adventurers to communicate via the Internet. With “weblogs,” the stream of ideas flows freely between those telling about the trip, and those who are eager to hear about it.

A weblog allows travelers to share their progress with everyone. Friends, relatives, and curious bystanders can follow along and interact. These digital diaries range from bare bones accounts of family vacations to multi-functional sites detailing epic indulgences of wanderlust.

For some, posting their progress is just the easiest way to exchange information, an extension of the way they communicate at home. For others, it’s a way to keep close-knit families together. And for still others, a weblog is an artistic palette that depends the meaning of the story of their




















David Michael Kennedy
Photographer David Kennedy is no stranger to change. A successful commercial shooter in New York for 18 years, he surprised colleagues in 1986 by giving up his glossy magazine gigs and moving to the southwest to shoot landscapes. There, his wonderfully warm-toned palladium fine art prints drew the attention of galleries and collectors.




Recently, he decided to explore yet another frontier. Inspired by a Henry David Thoreau poster he saw when he was taking his son to college, Kennedy decided things had gotten too complicated.

“It felt life there was not enough time to do my art,” he said. “I wanted to simplify.”

So Kennedy gave up his 3500 square foot house near Santa Fe, his two well-equipped darkrooms, and his horse. He traded them in on a 1960 Airstream Landyacht and life on the road. He and his girlfriend, Heather, and dog, Henry, are now in their second year journeying across America.

For the most part, the trio follows no roadmap of sites to see or things to do. And that suits Kennedy fine.

“We still get nuts when we have to be somewhere,” he said. “We really try as much as possibly to just wander. [When you have a destination] you forget what’s between where you are and where you’re going.”

As they travel, Kennedy shoots portraits of people he meets and posts updates on his website, www.davidmichaelkennedy.com. The site includes commentary, digital snapshots of many of the people he photographs, and forums where anyone can make suggestions of places to visit. Kennedy, who plans on putting together a gallery show and a book about his travels, said he thought documenting the trip was important.


“A diary is one thing. When you’re doing it publicly online, it forces you to keep up with it. It helps me discipline myself.”

Not only do friends follow Kenney’s adventures, so do collectors and patrons of his work. Although he doesn’t put his final portraits on the site, he says that collectors appreciate knowing a bit of background about how the photographs came to be, and Kennedy likes sharing that information with them through the website.

Changing his lifestyle has changed his art, too, Kennedy said. He finally has time to photograph whatever seems intriguing, whether that’s a 91-year-old Pentecostal minister he met in Louisiana or a man who drives his four-mule team across the southwest every winter.

“I think [traveling] is allowing me to be open to everything that happens. Every day, I get exposed to so many new things. I’m approaching things freer.”

While Kennedy originally though his troupe would be wandering for about a year, he’s not ready to stop yet. He is, however, weighing his desire for a bit of extra room with the personality of the Land Yacht. Even if he buys the 40-foot bus he’s got his eye on, he won’t bid farewell to the classic trailer.

“I hate the idea of parting with it,” he said. “A dealer (of art) in Houston wants to have it set up in the gallery with a print washing inside, like I just stepped away.”

At least for now, the trailer and photographer keep rolling on, seeing America anew, though the camera lens.