There’s a difference between tourists and travelers. Tourists skim the surface, lighting upon landmarks and attractions just long enough to snap a photo before moving on. For tourists—noses forever buried in maps, loudly bickering about the most efficient way to get from point A to point B—the meaning seems not to be the journey itself, but the collection of destinations, like notches carved into a bedpost. For travelers, on the other hand, the journey is all that matters. A traveler is less concerned with getting from point A to B than with all the delightfully weird shit that can happen along the way. Because the stuff happening in between A and B is life—life as it is lived in places you do not. And that is what the traveler has come to see.

Gil Leora is a traveler. In the years he worked as a commercial photographer, he was sent all over the country on assignments, shooting for catalogs and scrapbooking magazines—the kind of work that pays the bills and crushes the soul. After punching the proverbial clock, Leora would find solace in exploring his surroundings. Dive bars, thrift shops, street corners—the weird little out-of-the-way spots that make every place what it truly is. And along the way, he photographed everything, not because he aspired to being an artist or a documentarian, but because that’s what Leora does. He takes pictures.