To Everyone Who Hoped It Might Be True: A Deep Dive into Spencer Harding’s Film Archive

When I went on my first bike tour in the summer of 2009 from Seattle back to California I had a decision to make, take my camera or take a tent. I grabbed my old Hasselblad 501CM and hit the road. I had never gone on a long-distance tour before and I hadn’t much thought about any of it, I had a copy of Bicycling the Pacific Coast and some camping gear, I was gonna be fineeee. I had no plans for what to shoot along the ride, but when I got home I found that about 90% of the images I had shot were of the many people I encountered along the way. That was a moment of clarity for me and one that would define my photographic motivations for almost a decade afterward.

Some of the early images from that tour formed the backbone of my BFA Thesis project that I used in my senior show to graduate my photography program. After I graduated I jumped on a plane to Europe to bike tour across Spain and get my heart broken in front of the Eiffel Tower. I rode a tallbike across the Northwest and the Southeast. I met the most amazing humans any traveler could hope to cross paths with always with one of my medium format cameras with me. People came and went and a few continued to pop back into my life over the years and I consider myself so damn lucky to have been able to ramble around and get to experience all these people and their stories. This project started with a simple decision to snag my camera above all.

As we are all becoming more introspective in the current moment I thought it a good time to take a trip down memory lane, to a time for me when it was less about the bike as an object but rather a means to get to all people and experiences. Bikes and bike touring specifically have had one of the most important impacts on the course of my life. Here’s to all the amazing people who have helped me along the way and made my life all the more magical.

There are far too many stories to tell them all but if you are curious about a specific image, leave a comment and I’ll see what details I can drag out of the cobwebs on my brain.