In every adventure lies a story, and in every story lies an adventure.

In every adventure lies a story, and in every story lies an adventure.

Over the past few years, I've made it a habit to pick a word that sums up what I want to focus on creatively for the year ahead. In 2022, it was Adventure. Then came Authenticity in the following year. And now, for this year, I've landed on Journey.
Last year, I hit a wall creatively. I lost my mojo and ended up putting my personal projects on hold, just to get through the paid gigs. But I knew one thing: the longer I stayed stuck, the stronger I'd bounce back.

So, I tried to find inspiration anywhere I could – scrolling through Instagram, revisiting old favorites like Wes Anderson, Keith Carter and chatting with fellow creators. And somehow, the word "journey" felt right. This year was going to be about finding myself again as a creator and falling back in love with what I do.
Sometimes, you've just got to let things unfold on their own.

But what kind of journey did I need? It had to be something big, something that could either go amazingly well or completely belly flop. That's when I decided: it was time to tick off a big one from my bucket list. I settled on the classic American road trip – Route 66, cutting through eight states over 2400 miles. With barely a plan in place, I packed my bags and headed to Los Angeles to kickstart this adventure.

Now, gear is everything for us photographers. Over the years, I've learned that you need stuff that can take a beating and still come out on top, especially when you're flying all over the place. That's where my trusty Rotation 50L backpack comes in handy – it's tough as nails and fits everything from clothes to tripods to all the extra gear I need. And for my camera gear, the Backlight 26L is perfect – it's durable, holds all my essentials, and slips through crowded airports like a charm.

Our gear isn't just tools; it's part of our story, woven into every shot we take. So, armed with my gear, I set out to capture the spirit of Route 66 and remind myself why I fell in love with photography in the first place.

What started as a simple tick on my bucket list turned into a real eye-opener. Along Route 66, I rediscovered the heart of America – the kindness of strangers in small towns, the beauty of the open road, and yes, even the cost of a tow truck after getting stuck in the mud near Groom, Texas. But that's a story for another time.

Within each adventure, there resides a unique story, and within every story, an adventure awaits. It's not just about the places we go or the things we see; it's about the experiences we gather along the way and the memories we create. So, here's to embracing the journey, wherever it may lead, and discovering the endless adventures that await us.

Justin Tedford, a Midwest-based photographer and author, captures the culture of rural America. He is a self-proclaimed road trip junkie and coffee connoisseur, embarking on countless road trips. Fueled by coffee and his curiosity for exploration. In a stroke of luck and charm, he convinced the powers-that-be to publish his book, "Iowa: Land Between Two Rivers," showcasing the scenic beauty of the state's landscapes. When he is not behind the camera, Justin can be found planning his next adventure while trying to unsuccessfully convince his wife and daughter it’s a good idea to live on the road and explore America.

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