A founding member of the rock band America leads us through photographs from his View From the Hotel series.
Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell teamed up to form America in 1970, when they were fresh out of high school, and they have been touring ever since. The band has kept to a grueling schedule of about 100 shows annually, performing hits such as "A Horse With No Name" and "Ventura Highway" for crowds from San Diego to Sydney.
About 10 years ago, Beckley began passing the time by documenting the view from his hotel windows. "Everybody has their own routines when they get on the road to try and find some normalcy or regimen," says Beckley, who wanted to create "a dialogue of what it's like to continually live on the road."
He imposes strict rules on how to compose the shots, allowing only a minimal amount of zooming or panning. He won't change his hotel room, but will sometimes shoot 20 or 30 versions of a view. Over time, certain motifs have emerged: parking lots, upclose buildings or walls, panoramic cityscapes, and picture-perfect shots of sunsets and iconic landmarks. In his self-portraits, the camera captures Beckley's reflection in a window.
Beckley e-mails the photos to a close group of friends and posts them in chronological order on his website, gerrybeckley.com, where they form a sort of trip diary. "It's pretty astounding sometimes to just look at where you've been in, say, one given week," says Beckley.
America spent much of 2006 based in SoHo, where they recorded tracks for their double album Here & Now, a compilation of new and live songs released on January 16. James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins), Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), and Ryan Adams are among the guest artists.
A simple photography book--perhaps even of postcards--is now on Beckley's mind. He continues to tour and to add to his quirky collection. While some fans may prefer his classic travel-inspiring shots, Beckley says he strives for a mix. "The least appealing subject matter can sometimes turn into a pretty interesting shot," he says.