“Nothing To Write Home About” photo zine celebrates the chaos of being alive

Nothing To Write Home About

Photo zine, Clinton Bard, 44 pgs, Ok Cool Editions, okokcool.com, $8

Taken on a trip across North America, Clinton Bard’s photo zine is a mix of travel diary, urban social documentary and rural decay. There are no captions, just a stream of images, the strongest of which feel drenched in the sweat of summertime, with locations ranging from forest camps and the streets of San Francisco to crumbling buildings out in the desert.

The zine falls somewhere into the category of punk rock and skater-adjacent film photography, those loose gonzo documents of underground lifestyles created mostly by men. The chaotic energy of this scene gets me off, but the diet-Jackass stunts and glorification of alcohol gets stale. There are only so many photos of dudes pouring cheap beer on their faces that one can view.

Despite falling into a few brotography clichés, Nothing To Write Home About has moments of quietly affecting disaffection and outright joy. A horse in an empty field, an old man painting a landscape in a garage studio, a young boy in a swimsuit drinking from a public fountain. The subjects of these images feel unguarded and solitary, unaware of the photographer’s eye. Themes of isolation and escapism thread through the zine. The photos of Bard’s friends going wild, cracking beers, and putting fists in their mouths work as counterpoints to the abandoned car being winched off the roadside, or the distant house obscured by trees. The cumulative effect is one of wonder, and celebration of the chaos of being alive.