Weld by Todd M. Walker
In 2008, after more than a decade in New York City, I moved to Windsor, Colorado, my wife's hometown. The move from densely populated Queens to a small but booming bedroom community I'd visited only on holidays was jarring. New York had been the dream of my younger self. Windsor was in the throes of massive growth, expanding three times its size in a decade to nearly twenty thousand people. Like so many, I was trading in a personal dream to make something better for my family of three with one on the way.
After a year, I found myself out of work. While searching for a new job and simultaneously wrestling with the idea of chucking it all to take up photography full-time, I began making eastward car trips into Weld County. For hours at a time I drove past farmlands, feed lots, isolated housing developments and through the withering farm towns of Greeley, Eaton, Ault and Severance. Though a Colorado native, I was born an eight-hour drive away in the desert mountains of the Southwest. This was unfamiliar land. Pointing a camera at the flat Colorado grasslands was a way to accommodate myself to a new and unfamiliar home.
These Front Range foothills and plains tucked beneath the sudden rising Rockies were the one-time subjects of Robert Adams. Adams' writing and photographs have held a special place of influence for me. The sprawl he cataloged in bittersweet images of tract homes has changed little directionally, only increasing in scale. His Colorado work spoke to me about the possibilities of finding something visually exciting within my immediate surroundings and setting aside the desire to find a "big" subject.
The new home didn’t last. I found work in the Bay Area and we left Colorado behind. In those last Colorado months a growing technical acumen and a more deliberate approach to making photographs tipped me over to a new level of work. I consider those months in Weld County as the true start of my photographic road ahead.