During the series of lockdowns that defined much of the past two years, many of us were forced to explore more intimate relationships with our immediate spaces.
For Sandy Carson, who left his native Scotland for the US aged 19, this meant viewing his adopted hometown of Austin, Texas, through a slightly different lens.
“It made me study the city in greater detail, I suppose – and not take it for granted,” he says. “To look up, around and on the ground for change and clues, because of the immediacy of everything changing before our eyes.”
The subsequent project, Pretty Much, charts this visual journey through a series of witty, curious shots. Charging around Austin on his bike (he was a pro BMX-er when he first moved to the States), Carson was able to truly get into its “nooks and crannies”, capturing fleeting moments he might otherwise have missed.
“I ride my bike most days with a camera on me, so it always plays a part in most of my projects as my vehicle of choice. “I was more glad than ever to ride during the pandemic, for my sanity – when essential exercise was permitted or it felt safe to do masked-up.”
“It’s just an easy mode to keep your distance as well. There’s just something about velocity and movement on a bike that sparks creativity with me and [my] work. That might sound super corny, but it’s true. That, and being nosy and curious.”
Pretty Much was born from the realisation that the world, as we previously knew it, was about to change beyond comprehension. Today, Carson views the project as a record of sorts: a document of the unprecedented.
That said, when he thinks about looking back on the book in 10, 20 years time, he is met with cautious optimism.
“I think I’ll feel relief, hope – I hope,” he says. “Hoping that we’ve made a dent in, or moved on, from this mess. Maybe [we will] even have a giggle if [we] are lucky.”
Pretty Much is out now on Aint—Bad.