David Carol’s new book No Plan B collects images the photographer has made on road trips since the 1990s that have taken him from the California desert to post-Soviet Russia, from fishing in Canada’s Baffin Island to snorkeling in Turkey. With an eye for the poetic absurdities and juxtapositions of modern life, Carol’s black and white images record the visual ironies of everyday life—street signs give philosophical directions; a soap bubble floats in front of an old stone wall in France; a life-sized plush gorilla sits on the curb of a Long Island street.
Says Carol, “I feel my job, as a photographer is to organize the chaos. I try to translate what I see and think into a refined, organized and simple image. Now, by simple I don’t mean very few elements. I mean that I only want elements in the photograph that are completely necessary. I don’t really do this in a conscious way, but I know what I want the photos to look like and it keeps happening. I guess something I’m doing must be deliberate. Anyway, composition is very important to me and when I edit I often remove photos that might be interesting but don’t fit into what I want my pictures to look like.”
Carol traces his commitment to photography back to his first road trip, a cross-continental drive he took when he was 20 years old. As he recalls in the book, which is out today from Peanut Press (where Carol is a co-founder), “I wanted to take pictures and do a road trip in the spirit of Jack Kerouac.” By the time the trip was over and he and a friend delivered their drive-away car three days late, “I realized that I wanted to be a photographer and travel the world. I wanted to stay in motels and drive on every back road I could find. Actually, I never wanted to come home. The plan became be a photographer. There was no Plan B… and there still isn’t one.”