Thomas van der Zaag


In our exclusive 24 Hours Feature we follow artist and photographer based out of Toronto, Thomas van der Zaag on a month long road trip that he joined as the director of photography for the independent feature film ‘minor’.

The crew of six left Niagara Falls in a ’95 Lincoln Limousine to explore the small towns and American landscape before ending up in L.A. Whenever Thomas wasn’t filming he documented the strange and magical landscapes that the discovered on his way.

[Day 1, 2:00pm] West Virginia. Stretching in a home depot parking lot while our producer purchases aluminum ducts to pipe hot air from the front of the Limo to the rest of the car. The heating only worked in the front and the Appalachians are not warm in January! We were bundled up in our winter jackets and blankets in the back while the front seat passengers were in their t-shirts with the heat blasting.

[Day 3, 7:15am] Nashville, Tennessee. We shot some scenes in an old motel on the side of the highway that was covered in wood paneling.

[Day 5, 10:00am] Texarkana, Texas. The bottom of our limo started scraping against the highway every time we hit a bump making an incredibly terrifying sound scraping sound. We pulled over on the side of the highway with large transport trucks screaming by to find out that our rear shocks had blown out. We ended up spending the day in the desolate border town of Texarkana.

[Day 6, 12:00am] Somewhere in Texas. This was our first taste of the desert to come. Tumble weeds caught in the brush.

[Day 7,8, 8:30am] Alamogordo, New Mexico. Waiting for our limo to come back after filming some desert driving scenes. The next morning I woke up in my motel room covered in beg bug bites. I bagged all my clothes and took a very long shower to calm my nerves. We ended up getting the room for free at least…

[Day 8, 11:00am] White Sands, New Mexico. We spent the day shooting in White Sands, which is this entirely white desert of rolling sand dunes. Definitely one of the most amazing places I have ever been to but the wind was terrible. Even though it was warm out we had to wear winter jackets to protect ourselves from the biting wind.

[Day 8, 6:30pm] Monument Valley, Arizona. It’s impossible not to take a picture here that doesn’t look like a postcard.

[Day 9, 7:35am] The Grand Canyon, Arizona. Dawn at the Grand Canyon after filming a pre-sunrise scene. It didn’t impact me as much as the first time I saw a large canyon in Yellowstone a few years ago. I guess there is a limit to our perception of ‘bigness’.

[Day 10, 3:00pm] Las Vegas, Nevada. Sam enjoying an E-cigarette while we cruise up and down the strip in our limo looking for locations. It was the only place where parking a limo wasn’t a headache.

[Day 12, 5:45pm] Barstow, California. This felt like a breaking bad situation. There was a camper van off in the distance on one side and a police cruiser on the other with us shooting fireworks off in between. This is Elissa stretching pre-fireworks/cops.

[Day 17 8:25am] Los Angeles, California. Waking up in Los Angeles at our friend Matt Tammaro’s place.

[Day 20, 3:00pm] Venice Beach. Elissa on a cloudy day near the Venice beach boardwalk.

[Day 23, 1:00pm] Salton Sea. Pit stop beside an abandoned shack at the Salton Sea.

[Day 23, 3:25pm] Slab City, California. This is Salvation Mountain located outside of Slab City. It’s an incredible sculpture built in the middle of the desert out of straw, paint and garbage that is covered in Bible verses.

[Day 23, 3:50pm] Salvation Mountain. An old couple that we met at the mountain. They used to live in Slab City when they were young and they had come back with their daughter to show her where they used to live.

[Day 23 5:30pm] Box Canyon Road. This was an amazing drive between the Salton Sea and Joshua Tree. We ended up renting a Camaro in LA and it made for an incredible winding drive through this never-ending rocky canyon that felt like we where in the middle of a Sergio Leone western.

[Day 23, 6:45pm] Joshua Tree. Sunsetting as we entered Joshua Tree National Park.

[Day 24, 7:00pm] Leo Carillo Beach, Malibu. I went here by myself to explore the sea caves and rock formations and was chased by a very small dog on the beach.

All images © Thomas van der Zaag

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