Spencer Harding is a photographer born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. He received his BFA in Photography from CSU Long Beach and promptly hit the road with a bike and camera traveling all over the US and abroad. He now works as a bicycle tour guide taking tourists on cycling vacations and tricks people on instagram into thinking he is perpetually on vacation. His long term portraiture project “To Everyone Who Hoped It Might Be True” dealt with the ephemeral nature of interpersonal encounters on the road. His last project “The Long Lines” tracked down the derelict remains of the once great microwave relay network that connected our country coast to coast. Spencer can currently be found between nesting in his trailer in Oakland and hanging out in National Park parking lots creeping on vinyl wrapped RVs and tour buses.
“Wilderness hides its unnaturalness behind a mask that is all the more beguiling because its seems so natural. as we gaze into the mirror it holds up for us, we too easily imagine that what we behold is nature when in fact we see the reflection of our own unexamined longing and desires.” -William Cronon
The American ideal of Wilderness is a natural result of our naive post-frontier ideology. We have set aside massive swaths of land in an attempt to preserve the myth and lore of the western half of the country, creating lands that are supposedly untouched, virgin, and wild. Though, in reality, we have and continue to immensely disrupted the natural order of these lands, to the point they would cease without our stewardship. As we attempt to preserve this fabricated wilderness and make it accessible, it ironically comes to reflect the cities and development that many seek these places to escape from.
Our stewardship of these lands has been dependent on access to fund preservation, predicated on the idea that people must see these places to appreciate them. As social media and massive advertising campaigns fill heads all over the world with the dream of driving an RV and taking their very own selfie with the landscape, we must be wary the necessity and viability of continuing our current level of accessibility to these places.
“The life of every river sings its own song, but in most the song is long since marred by the discords of misuse…Parks are made to bring the music to the many, but by the time the many are attuned to hear it there is little left but noise.” -Aldo Leopold
To view more of Spencer’s work please visit his website.