Where were these photos taken?

All of these photos were taken on a road trip across the country early last summer. My boyfriend and I had decided we were going to go on the often talked about cross-country trip. We ended up spending four weeks driving a sort of circumference route around the country rather than a strict cross-country route. The photos in this gallery were shot in North Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

What was it that inspired you to put these photos together in this way? How did this project come about?

It took me a long time—several months—after coming back before doing anything with the photos I had taken. While I liked a lot of them, they seemed like “road trip” pictures. The scenery shots that of course you take because that landscape is gorgeous or that town wacky and you’re just compelled. I kept thinking of the road through the Big Horn mountains in eastern Wyoming where every few miles was a faded sign with peeling paint that read “Scenic Photo Here.”

Recently, I was looking through the thumbnails and noticed for the first time that the golden hill from the Badlands was right next to the Mitchell Corn Palace, mirroring each other. I realized that that kind of pattern mirroring was one sort of conversation that I had probably been having with myself during the whole trip. So I went looking again, through all of the images, to see what had been said.

And that conversation went like…?

That’s a very tough question because it means making sense… I don’t really discover pictures to take, it’s more like finding them again when I see them. When I really want to make a picture I feel something like a zap of recognition. So the conversation went like, “There you are. I know you.” And when I looked at all I had assembled, I saw that in total what I’d been saying was, “You’ve come all this way and you’re still right here. Still not entirely sure you want to go out there.”

Of these combinations, are there any that you think may have been premeditated? Or are they all purely by chance?

I think the only premeditated thing I did was to take two cameras with me, one with color film for landscapes and one with black & white film for when we got out the car and actually saw other people. As I was shooting I didn’t think about combining images. There were certainly things I made sure to shoot over and over again though, like the motels and rooms. They were all especially strange and curious and a little creepy, made even more so by seeing them first late at night.


Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack