Scotsman Sandy Carson was a professional BMX rider; now he works as a photographer. His latest book presents a series of humorous observations made over 12 years on the road
Originally from Scotland, Carson emigrated to the US in 1993, aged 21, to pursue a career as a professional BMX rider. He spent 15 years travelling the world on sponsorships, and, during these long journeys, Carson began making photographs. “I was shooting whatever, wherever I was on the road,” he says. Carson originally wrote and shot photographs for BMX titles, before gradually turning his attention to documentary photography.
The images in Carson’s latest book, I’ve Always Been a Cowboy in My Heart, were made on the road over the last 12 years. “I didn’t set out to start this project. When I first moved here, I was always collecting and archiving pictures as memories,” he explains. “There was a common thread running through them.”
In I’ve Always Been a Cowboy in My Heart, Carson captures humorous and unexpected moments among what can be the mundane, everyday realities of travelling across the US. “It is kind of my view of the States and travel,” says Carson. “Even after 20-odd years, I still have wide eyes travelling around the States. There are so many uncanny juxtapositions that catch my eye.”
While some of Carson’s images are reminiscent of the quintessential American road trip photography of the greats like Stephen Shore and William Eggleston, the series was not directly inspired by this genre. “Your pictures are a portrait of yourself; whatever I’m shooting I’m going to put my own spin on it,” says Carson. His own experiences and personality are embodied in the photographs, particularly through a series of postcards, which Carson wrote to his family back in the UK. They outline some of the most memorable anecdotes from his time travelling across the US.