2 bicycles, 2 photographers, 30,000 miles and 50+ countries, to document the Geography of Youth.
1. So what’s the story with you two, best friends, lovers…..how do you know each other?
We met in 2007 while both working at the Maine Media Workshops for the summer. We moved to NYC right after that summer and the rest, as they say, is history!
2.You are quite the achievers for young people, have you worked hard for it or is it easy because it is your passion?
I’m not sure that we’re so much achievers as folks who wanted to see something happen and took a leap of faith. We work really hard, but a lot of doing what you love is taking the tough first step towards actually getting what you want out of life.
3. Photography is one thing, but you gave it a more extreme element by adding in the bikes, how did this whole idea come about and be put into action?
When we came up with the idea for Project Tandem, we originally thought about driving around the country. Mo’s dad pointed out that his college buddy had cycled across the country and we thought that was a pretty cool idea. A month into cycle touring, we were hooked.
4. What bikes are you cycling?
We are sponsored by an amazing company called Waterford Precision Cycles. They made us custom steel touring bikes and they are so awesome. We’re totally in love with our bikes.
– Distance you cover a day?
Anywhere from 30k to 130k. Depends on the weather, terrain, resources…
– Pace? We average 20k per hour.
– Stopovers? We take lots of water, snack, and photo breaks. We’re constantly stopping for something!
5. Do you feel lucky to have found another person that is on the same page as you goal wise? Are you as similar in all aspects of your personality?
We’re actually pretty different, personality-wise. We’re lucky to share the same drive, but mostly just lucky that we can tolerate each other for this long and under often less than ideal circumstances.
6.Did you do any training or bike maintenance before you departed?
A bit! We’re pretty decent at repairing bicycles but we’ve learned as we go. We didn’t train too much, just tried to get/keep in shape. You don’t have to be a super-athlete to cycle tour.
7. What is the crux of your mission?
The best way to describe the project is through our intro video:
8.How do you approach the people you want to photograph?
We literally just walk/cycle up to them and start chatting. We explain the project and ask them if they want to be a part of it!
9. You are out there cycling the world with an aim, but what are the benefits?
– What have you learned?
It’s impossible to write all that we’ve learned. Seeing the world at 20k an hour is a pretty amazing thing. We’re seeing and learning more than I think we could possibly ever realize fully.
– Have you had fun?
Of course! It’s not always sunshine and downhills, but we try to remember, even in the toughest of days, how lucky we are to be doing this!
– What difference can it make to other people’s lives?
– Will you ever dismount the bike and stop?
Sure. We’re not really hard-core bicycle riders. That sounds funny, but the bicycles are just the way we choose to travel right now. We love the pace and the photography and writing that traveling by bicycle allows, and traveling by bicycle will always be a part of our lives, but different forms of transportation suit different needs. The bicycle is great for us now, but that may not always be the case.
10. Is there a lesson here you are trying to teach the youth of today?
Nope. This project is in the spirit of true documentary. We find people in their twenties, photograph and interview them, and present the material for viewer to form their own opinions and conclusions.
11. How did you narrow the questions to ask your subject to those 10-11?
We worked with Dr. Jeffery Jenson Arnett at Clark University to develop questions that we thought pushed at the heart of what it means to be in your twenties in today’s world. Hopefully the questions make the subjects think a bit about where they are in their lives and their answers will allow everyone else to learn a little something about different place, cultures, people, and what it means to be twenty-something today all over the world.
12. Is it all pre-researched and pre-planned or do you take it day by day…where you are going to go, where you are going to sleep?
It’s all researched and pre-planned, but it also changes day by day. Our motto is: plan, plan, plan, and know it’ll all change.
13. Whats the best part of your lifestyle?
Getting to meet new and interesting people every day and getting the opportunity to share the things we see and learn with the world on-line. So cool.
14. Give me a rundown of a typical day?
Wake up before the sun. Pack up the tent and bags. Cook and eat breakfast. Ride, stopping all the time to photograph, jot down notes, interview twenty- somethings… Eat lunch. Do administrative work on the computer if we can find internet.. Ride a bit more. Find a good camping spot. Set up tent. Eat. Write and upload photos. Sleep.
17. Where in the world are you now?
We’re in the Pampas of Argentina right now. It’s pretty and flat, but very hot!
18. What age are both of you?
Alan is 27 and Mo is 28.
19. Where is home?
Home is our tent. Haha. We both consider home to be the Northeast of the United States. We both grew up there and it’s the region that we call home.
20. What camera’s are you both using?
We both use Canon 5D Mark II’s.
21. How do you fund the project?
The Geography of Youth is funded by grants from the Maine Arts Commission, several amazing corporate sponsors, and 230 fantastic Kickstarter backers who pledged more than $16,000 to the project. We’re not completely funded to make it all the way around the world yet, but we’re pretty close!
22. First the States, then the world….what is next?
Not sure. It feels like we’ve only just begun The Geography of Youth, so we’ve got plenty of time to keep thinking about what’s next!
23. Is the cycling just a means to get around, or is it something you love?
Cycling is a great form of transportation and we definitely love it. We’re big advocates of cycle touring, and we love to see people give it a shot. That being said, our passion is really for the storytelling aspect of these projects, so when the time comes that cycling isn’t the best way to get what we need, then we’ll try something new!