Landscape, Photobooks, Portrait

Photographing an American road trip to try and overcome anorexia

All images from the series Hitchhike US © Stanislav Bříza

Czech photographer Stanislav Bříza's self publishing platform BFLMPSVZ publishes a chronicle of a joint road trip through America, and through the dark recesses of a relationship "that goes beyond the confines of the road."

Hitchhike US is a photography book which narrates an intimate relationship between two close friends – Stanislav and the girl he only refers to as H.

Stanislav is the photographer, and his best friend a young woman who has suffered from an eating disorder for over 15 years.

photobook Hitchhike US

photobook Hitchhike US

Their journey to her imagined USA was not a romantic holiday, but “a hopeless attempt to escape the clutches of her struggle.”

Their personal journey took place far from their homeland. It was, in part, the photography says, “inspired by cliché of American dream, Hollywood films or the beat and hippie generations.”

photobook Hitchhike US

photobook Hitchhike US

The series documents what is very much the liberated youthful dream of discovering the continent itself of America – a photo diary of the pair as they hitchhiked, ate wild mushrooms, slept under the sky, or, when that got too much, gorged on McDonalds or checked into the relative luxury of cheap roadside motels.

But the trip was about H, and her struggle with her body that, at times, felt like it could threaten her very life. “Her problems were crucial for the whole journey, her life and our relationship,” Stanislav says.

photobook Hitchhike US

photobook Hitchhike US

“She was my girlfriend a long time ago, but after we split we stayed friends – and, eventually, we were able to undertake that journey. So I knew her very well.”

Travelling with someone with such an eating disorder was, Stanislav admits, an intense, wearing experience, but it also took the journey in directions he might not have travelled otherwise.”If you know anybody with an eating disorder, you probably understand how difficult it might be to stay with such a person 24/7 during a trip,” he says.

photobook Hitchhike US

photobook Hitchhike US

“But, on the contrary, at some points the journey was easier, more adventurous – H didn’t have any problem sleeping in the bush next to highway or on the outskirts of the city. She didn’t have any fear, even to be killed.”

The resulting photobook, Hitchhike US, is a mixture of portraits of H, along with portraits of people they met, and whom offered them kindness and support along the way. The series acts as both a visual and textual diary, one based on the words and pictures logged throughout the journey and afterwards rewritten into a collection of poems.

photobook Hitchhike US

The photobook came out of Stanislav’s experience of Czech publishing photography magazine Temnokomornik, Currently a student at the Institute of Creative Photography at Silesian University in the Czech Republic, Stanislav founded BFLMPSVZ as “a platform for publishing books and zines by young artists from central Europe.”  Hitchhike US is the first book published by BFLMPSVZ, but many more are planned.

Find out more here.