The Hippo


Oct 20, 2019








Greg Hindy. Courtesy photo.

Nashua Public Library Exotic Destination series

Where: All lectures occur at the Nashua Public Library, 2 Court St., Nashua, 589-4610, in its theater; no registration required, all events are open to the public
Nepal: Pay It Forward: Thursday, Jan. 7, at 7 p.m., featuring photographer Ken Harvey, who participated in a medical mission to remote villages in the Himalayas and returned after the 2015 earthquakes to rebuild
Iran: Persian Glory and Islamic Revolution: Sunday, Jan. 10, at 2 p.m., featuring Barry Pell, who traveled 4,000 miles through Iran’s landscape and will share his photography, history and impressions of the country’s architecture, crafts, cuisine and people
Hiking the John Muir Trail: Thursday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m., featuring Allison Driscoll, who solo-hiked through the 220-mile footpath that leads from Yosemite National Park to Mt. Whitney, the tallest summit in the lower 48.
Walking Across the United States: Thursday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m., featuring Greg Hindy, who walked 9,000 miles under a vow of silence across the United States while taking photos

After the walk
Nashua native recounts silent walk across the country

By Kelly Sennott

 A year and a half ago, Greg Hindy decided his first endeavor after college wouldn’t be a job, internship or grad school, but a journey across the country in silence.

The Yale grad and Nashua native left New England in July 2013 and spent a year walking, camping and taking photos with a 4x5 field camera. He communicated to passersby with notecards; intrigued, they sent messages to his family via Facebook, assuring them he was all right so far. Besides this, he lacked connection to the outside world, with no phone or tech device to follow the news or keep in contact with friends or family back home.
His story made national news, and when he finally met his destination — Murrietta, California, in July 2014 — he decided to walk instead of fly back home. 
“I wanted to continue the series of photographs I started. And I’d missed the whole Midwest. I just thought it would be worthwhile to continue walking in this country a little longer, especially since I already had momentum. Everything was packed and ready to go still. It just seemed as easy to walk back as it would be to fly back,” Hindy said during an interview at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Nashua, days before Christmas.
He finished walking back to the East Coast in about five months and began developing his 2,200 photos shortly after. It’s what he spends most of his time doing these days as artist-in-residence at Trinity College in Connecticut. He hopes to finish by May.
Before then, he offers a glimpse at the pictures — the first public reveal in New Hampshire — at the Nashua Public Library on Thursday, Jan. 28, as part of its “Exotic Destinations” series. 
Walking and communicating
Hindy’s favorite places were the roads lining natural landscapes, like that which followed the Lochsa and Clearwater rivers on U.S. Highway 12 in Idaho. There were also roads in Texas and Nevada that were especially empty, which is how Hindy preferred his routes.
“You don’t have to consider that you’re stepping on other people’s toes or camping on someone’s property or trying to dodge traffic,” he said.
He rarely sought attention; more often than not, people would pull over and ask him if he needed a ride or food.  For when this happened, he had a postcard ready, which changed depending on his geography. While in the South, he used more religious terminology to describe his project.
“Originally, my goal was to not write at all. I had a bunch of notecards I wrote beforehand, and I was just kind of naively thinking somehow those would last me a whole year, but within a couple weeks, I had already had different circumstances where I had to write something new to someone,” he said. “So I … adjusted my goal, which was sort of just to have a notebook and to only write in response to people. … When I was alone, the idea was, I just wanted to be walking or resting or meditating.”
The photos
The film he used was expensive and heavy, and the nature of it meant he couldn’t take more than a handful of shots a day. About 90 percent will be developed in black and white. So far, he likes what he sees.
“I sort of felt like I was relieved I did [carry the camera]. …  It felt a little defeating at times — like, what’s the point of this? Are these pictures really going to be worth it for the struggle?” Hindy said. 
He’s only halfway through the process, but he’s been noticing small trends in the outcomes while re-living the experience through images. For example, in the beginning, he socialized little, and the result was that his photos were of the ground, of random artifacts and of the landscape.
“But I started getting bored of the random roadside phenomena,” he said. “The more I moved into the Southeast, the more interactions I had with people. It just kind of changed what I was trying to photograph,” he said.
Effects of being silent
Hindy found photography while studying psychology at Yale, and he was interested to see how his circumstances would affect his mind and the art itself. 
“It was pretty hard for me to be self-aware while I was walking,” Hindy said. “I became very obsessed with the photography and pretty in-my-head about it. … There was a certain detachment from everything [else].”
It took time, but eventually, his conditions became the norm. He’d forget he hadn’t spoken in weeks, months, and the way other people lived became strange, he said. Being alone and unconnected to the news also affected how he remembered things.
“Sometimes people use [news events] to divide up their own year. They remember what they were doing in relations to what was going on in the news,” he said. “My memories of the year are all very personal things that nobody else was there to witness and didn’t happen concurrently with anything I was aware of.”
Walking back
When he arrived in California, he’d been thinking about the first words he’d say, wanting control over those first sentences. 
It had been hard at the end; walking through California was difficult. People drove fast, they were untrusting, and there weren’t a lot of places to camp.
“In general, people just don’t trust someone who they perceive to be homeless. There’s a lot of homelessness [in California], and the whole coast of California kind of has that stigma,” he said. “I thought that, by thinking about what I wanted to say, I was going to say a more general thing that would reflect my overall feelings. But actually, [the words] only reflected my immediate feelings, of the anxiety of finishing and also the frustration of walking in California.”
To process the experience, he decided to walk back, which was quieter and more relaxed than his trip out. When people talked to him, he could talk back, but he was more blasé about the trip this time around. The hard part was over. 
“By the time I got home, I was just ready to figure out where I was with the photographs. I didn’t have the energy to take another picture,” he said.
What’s next
When Hindy’s finished developing, he’d like to publish the photos in a book. He plans to do little more with the project, uninterested in future events or gallery shows. He wants to be done, to move on to the next adventure — a walking and photography trip in Alaska and Canada next summer. 
This one will be different. For one thing, he’s ditching the silence vow, and for another, he’ll have his 50-pound German Shepard-mix dog, Pablo, with him. 
Most of the photographers he admires work on long-term projects like this.
“I feel kind of, a little bit, married to the idea of walking to make photographs. … I kind of see this form of long-distance walking as a unique approach to photography. … There’s something really to be said for submerging yourself in the process,” he said. “I think for probably the next few years, I’m going to do as much of it as I can while I’m still young and energetic.” 

®2019 Hippo Press. site by wedu