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Photo Series: Boys, Bikes and Bucket Hats

On a road trip from Scotland to Mongolia, James Parker documented boyhood in 19 different countries.

When British photographer James Parker started out on a road trip from Edinburgh, Scotland all the way to Russia, he brought 40 rolls of film with him. The trip, undertaken with some friends as a challenge to raise money for local charities, ended up lasting almost two months. Parker documented what he saw along the way, not sure what the end result would look like.

Across 19 countries, from the UK past the farthest reaches of Eastern Europe, Parker focused his lens on the people and places he saw. Eventually, unexpected themes emerged: boyhood, changing masculinity, and men coming of age. Or, as Parker ended up titling the project: Boys, Bikes and Bucket Hats. “Over time I realized that I was focusing on situations that I recognized myself in,” he says. “The project has this air of growing up, boyhood, vulnerability and finding your way.”

Parker, who is 25, describes the journey as his first real travel experience. The photos are, to a large extent, about his own vulnerability and the challenges of finding your way on a long and difficult trip with friends. But Parker has taken the worn out “finding yourself on a road trip” trope of travel diary photography and turned the self-exploration outward.

Contrasting photos of carefree boys riding bikes and skateboarding with shots of older men at work or at home creates a sense of odd continuity, as if Parker is documenting the same people at different points in time. Boys, Bikes and Bucket Hats ends up being just as much a cross-cultural study of growing up as it is a portrait of Parker’s own nostalgia.

See more of James Parker’s photography at his online portfolio.

More road trips:
Jason Lee’s Photography of a Dust-Covered America
Theo Gosselin: Capturing his wanderlust-inducing life on the road
The Saddest Basketball Nets

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