I’m a photographer. That’s my bread and butter and my passion; it’s what keeps the lights on. I went to school to understand the craft better and I’ve been doing it since I first stole my Dad’s Canon Ae-1 back in 6th grade. On my better days, I’d be bold enough to call myself a writer but if asked the dreaded “what do you do?” cocktail party ice-breaker, I’d always respond “I’m a photographer” first. (In hopes that the conversation would then die off…so I could get back to drinking.)
That statement, those three words, “I’m a photographer.” took me years and years to gain the confidence to say. I hold the title in very high regard. While working on my undergrad I would marvel at the works of Richard Avedon, Richard Renaldi, Lee Freedlander, and Robert Frank and think to myself, these are photographers. I wasn’t there yet. I knew that one day I might be, but as a 20-year-old in awe of Mapplethorpe and Ritts I had a very hard time believing that my over-contrasted black and white photos of fence posts would ever amount to much.
In the same vein, I considered myself a traveler before I first talked to Christopher Many last year. But after talking to him, I realized I’d been over-selling myself. Sure, I’ve been on some journeys. I’ve seen incredible things, met profound nomadic thinkers, and restructured my worldview while naked in a makeshift sweat lodge with 30 other men in the mountains of Ecuador. I’ve been around, is what I’m saying. But Christopher Many? That guy is on a whole new level.
Many has the stories to back up the title of traveler, in fact he has two books filled with them (one of which was just released). If there were a “Vagabonding Museum Show” he’d be in a prime spot. He thinks differently. In a way that few people do. The outlook of a person like Many requires time, patience, and compassion for the world at large. It’s been honed through nearly 20-years of non-stop adventuring (kinda puts your three weeks of backpacking through Europe in perspective, right?). He is wholly and truly dedicated to his craft — an artist with the road as his canvas.
So obviously, I jumped at the chance to sit at the feet of the master for the second time in two years. Here’s our conversation: