Wonder South

Surplus & Sight

Dispatch 32: Small & Vast - A Texas Journey

PHOTOGRAPHY by Chandler Bondurant INTERVIEW by Jeffrey Roedel


Cut deep into the Texas panhandle, near Amarillo and Lubbock, lies Palo Duro, an arid stretch of dirt marked with caves and hoodoos that undoubtedly hold histories and mysteries from generations past of settlers, oil men and sundry travelers exploring the “Grand Canyon” of Texas. 


For his part, Chandler Bondurant, an Atlanta-based photographer and Wonder South contributor (Issue no. 2 ~ Sturdy Brothers) set out for the region not for the country’s second largest canyon, but to road trip through the small, time-stopped towns that dot this landscape on the edge of the north eastern reach of the great Southwest. 


Bondurant’s work can be seen for Best Made Co., Gear Patrol, and Woolrich, among others. Wonder South caught up with Bondurant after the trek, and he shared with us some photos and a little about the journey.


Where specifically did you start and finish and what drew you to this part of Texas?


We started in Atlanta, and drove West all the way to Palo Duro, Texas. We chose this area because we didn't know too much about it, and we wanted to explore a part of Texas that sometimes gets glossed over when people travel out West.


How would you describe this landscape compared to others you've road tripped through in the South?


The landscape in this part of Texas was similar to parts of West Texas that I've traveled to, in that it was mostly flat and arid, however a lot of this land had more of a 'wide open plains' vibe, and had much more life than just straight desert. Temperatures were on the cooler side this time of year, and it made for an extremely pleasant trip. 


What's your approach on a road trip like this? Are you a planner or more spontaneous?


With trips like this, I'm usually doing the least bit of planning possible. Of course, it's always great to have a good backbone of a plan for a trip like this, so I usually will do a small list of all the major locations we want to head through. Aside from that, though, we definitely flew by the seat of our pants and stopped wherever we felt like. 


What type of images do you like to make on trips like this? And which was your favorite image from this set?


Whenever I do any sort of travel photography, I like to keep it as documentary as possible, and I never stage anything. For this trip, I was really seeking out images showcasing small town Texas. I wanted the images to highlight the small details like buildings and cars that set this area apart and distinguish it from different parts of rural America. My favorite image from this set is definitely the 1960's Mustang. I've always loved classic muscle cars, and this is the only Mustang I've ever seen in this bright orange color.


Where to next? And what do you always make sure to bring with you?


Up next on my list is somewhere tropical. I know it seems somewhat cliche, but work and travel has been really stressful lately, and I'm really yearning from an escape from it all. I'm thinking the Caribbean, or maybe even Oaxaca. When traveling I always make sure to bring my camera, a lighter, and a good rain jacket, because regardless of what the weather says, it's always going to rain if you don't bring one!

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