Monday, June 29, 2009

Missoula Says "Hello!"

A new submission here for your consideration! Lewis is one of our first Flickr group members and has sent us many pictures from Missoula. In this post, Lewis tells us about how he became a bike commuter and professional photographer- riding and shooting, 2 of my favorite activities!

My name is Lewis Kelley and I live in Missoula Montana. I started regularly commuting to college by bike back when gas first creeped over $2/gallon. Missoula has always been a great place for bicyclists, but not many people were actually commuting back then. I took some time off of school and worked for a year during 2008 on a construction crew during which time I rarely got a chance to hop on my bike.

Depending on how you view things, I luckily was laid off just before thanksgiving last year and had a lot of time on my hands in which to think about things. This is when I had the idea of going carfree. I would shortly be going back to school to study urban planning and thought that giving up driving would give me a perspective on urban design that many people overlook. I was also once again a poor college student and so thought I could save some very needed money.

It was also about this time, with lots of time on my hand, that I started up my own photography business, just as something to dabble in and hopefully to make enough money to cover my very expensive hobby. I had been an avid enthusiasts for the last several years, but really dedicated myself to improving my work once I was out of work and unable to find a new position.
So in Early March I gave up driving and started the blog to document the year in which I wouldn't be driving and the impact this would have on my ecological footprint. I turned my road bike into a commuter by adding fenders, a rear rack, and some panniers. I also made the plunge of purchasing a Bike trailer, and following some sound advice, went with a Two-wheel Burley model that could be broken down into a flat bed. This has really come in handy when going to Lowes and the grocery store and picking up large loads.

Between the time that I started my photography business in December and going carfree, I had met a few good contacts within the Missoula art community that gave me some good advice and made me feel more confident with my work. I decided to take the plunge and attempt to sell my work at our local farmers market which has a larger section of handmade crafts. For a town of about 60,000 people we have a very vibrant market with lots of tourists that browse.
I spent about two weeks getting ready for the market, spending much of my time outside of class, and eventually a new job with a nonprofit, organizing. I printed out a substantial inventory of photos, which I had to pick up and transport to the framer for mattes on my bike, I also picked up a table and photo stands from target; the table works great to extend my flat bed as its the perfect width to fit between my wheels.

Ready 4 the Market

I was a mess the first day of the market, having not gotten much sleep the night before because of last minute details that needed to be completed. Loading up the trailer in the morning took about 20 minutes of careful work. I used canoe straps to first tie down the table and then use this to stack up my supplies. The ride is about a mile over bumpy road and I was extremely nervous as I went over bumps and potholes in the road. Getting there at 7 am to register and setup I parked my bike against a building and waited to be assigned a spot at the market.
After setting up the market opened around 9 and the people started to slowly roll through. It wasn't until just before lunch that I made my first sale, but it certainly felt good. I have so far participated in two markets and have sold a few hundered dollrs worth of my photography. Being part of the market I am meeting many exceptional people that are fellow vendors. Three of which also transport their goods to the market by bike, which I plan on writting a blog post about at some point. It feels good to be able to be successful at something like this and not need a car which most people feel is a necessary for normal life in America.

Bike Ridn


Hippie vs. Child

Fixie Girl


  1. Thanks for posting this, it's inspiring me to get my backside into gear and try selling some of my artwork locally, by bike of course...

  2. Get on it, man! There are throngs of people out there that need to see you pedal your way to fame and fortune. Or your stall at the Farmer's Market : )

  3. I love the commitment & I think you are right-- commuting solely by bike must give you valuable perspective regarding urban design. Also, I don't think it's coincidental that you went carfree and decided to step up your photography at the same time~ something freeing and courageous about both these decisions.

  4. Thanks for the profile. Keep up the good work down in Cali.

  5. First of all, I am egotistically excited that this Missoula post was made on my birthday. I'm from missoula , too, and love to ride my bike. I have a 7 year old who cant quite ride his own bike yet. I used a burley trailer since he was about 1, but he grew out of it. I purchased an Adams tag-along bike a couple weeks ago ( b-day gift to myself!) and have been transitioning to a car-free existence ( or that's my goal). But that's not all, I thought you might enjoy learning about my bicycle-powered bookmobile , a bike cart that I have used to sell zines ( pronounced ZEEN) from at the local market and on the streets of missoula. see old pictures of it on Flickr: ITs been through a few redesigns since these photos, this year it has an aluminum frame designed from a jogging stroller!