1. Can you describe this hobby and how you got started? It's a little unusual!
I like meeting people, and often when I meet people they tell me about places they go that are special to them. So I've come across hidden waterfalls in North Carolina, an abandoned amusement park in Rhode Island, a cave that fills with hot water on the edge of the pacific ocean in California, a wild island in Utah, a sand mountain in Nevada, a salsa dancing club in upstate New York, etc.
After 15 years of traveling to photograph, I know people and places across the world. So when my friends want an adventure, especially for a romantic date, I like sharing places they can go.
2. How many times have you sent friends on romantically informed adventures?
Honestly, I've lost count.
3.Can you tell us about a time when it worked really well, and a time that wasn't as successful?
Recently, a German curator wrote to me and told me that he was going to travel to Texas with his wife. I put him in contact with a retired cowboy who lives in a very small town next to the Palo Duro Canyon. The Palo Duro is the second biggest in the United States, but relatively few people go there. Painter Georgia O'Keeffe described Palo Duro as "a burning, seething cauldron, filled with dramatic light and color." So as a surprise, the curator brought his wife to the canyon, and showed her the backdrop to paintings that she loved. Then he brought her to the nearby small town, and they were welcomed by the cowboy who took them in. They all made friends quickly, went to a high school play, and stayed for July 4th fireworks.
As for what didn't work, I was driving with my friend Charlie in a minivan across Nevada. I had my camera. Charlie had a mandolin and a pink baseball hat that said “Guns & Guitars” on the front. I brought Charlie to Cliven Bundy’s ranch to see what the standoff between a militia group and the FBI looked like. The militia group was defending Bundy's right to graze his cattle on public land. At the gate of the ranch was a man sitting in a lawn chair, holding an assault rifle. I asked if I could take a photograph. He said ok. Then he decided that we were undercover FBI, pointed the gun at my friend Charlie, and told him to play the mandolin.
4. Are there any locations that you find yourself returning to? Why is that?
I keep track of fruit trees that grow in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland. A fun date is to walk through neighborhoods and pick a whole range of fruit. There are parks, redwood groves, beaches, creeks, tiled stairways, and slides along the way too. Those places are close to home, and I return to them at least seasonally.
5. For you how are adventuring and romance connected?
I actually think the best first dates are simple. There needs to be the feeling that the conversation can continue. If a couple meets in their twenties or thirties and spends the rest of their lives together, then they will likely share conversations over tens of thousands of meals.
That being said, adventures can give couples a memory of something special that they shared. Those memories become stories, and those stories can be a glue that keeps the pieces of a life together. Adventures also allow a break from the distractions and obsessions of everyday life. By traveling, it can be easier to see the proportions of the home and life to which you return.
6. Does this hobby influence your photography in any way? Why?
Of course! For instance I asked a researcher at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration where the cleanest air was. He gave me an exact spot. The air over Cape Kumukahi on the Big Island of Hawaii has traveled across the Pacific Ocean. It is arguably the cleanest air on Earth. I went there and took a photo of the landscape: ground, plants, and ocean. It wasn’t a very good picture.
Then, walking back to the road, I met a couple on their first date. It was after sunset, so I asked them if they would meet me the next morning. I wanted to photograph them on their second day of knowing each other, in the cleanest air on earth. They met me they next day. During the shoot, they started kissing. That led to the photograph that closes my third book, Human Nature.
I told my best friend and his wife about that place, along with some other adventures in the area. They went there on vacation.
7. How do you approach traveling and meeting people to take photographs on your projects?
I travel and I meet people. Often I am introduced to people by their friends, which makes it easy for them to trust me. But often I just say hi, my name is Lucas, and go from there. I find that if I have a story about what I am working on that is easy to understand and retell, then people I meet invite me into their lives and share.
Lucas Foglia's new book Human Nature is out now.