In 2009, after 10 years of working full time as a corporate video producer at General Motors in Detroit, I was downsized. GM told me to hit the road, so I did. Unemployed for the first time in my adult life, I was devastated – but I was also, it turned out, undaunted. I took the opportunity to set out on the road trip I had always dreamed of: Route 66. It was a journey that changed my career, and my life.
I took on a few different photographic projects during my exploration of small town America along the Mother Road, including a black and white film portfolio of abandoned Route 66, a personal travel blog following my adventures, and a time lapse video project.
Route 66 Images
Colour and Black & White infrared film images of Route 66 can be viewed here.
The Dashboard Camera
To truly document the journey down Route 66, I secured a digital SLR equipped with a wide-angle lens to my dashboard, and used an intervalometer to take one photo every few seconds. After six weeks and over 2400 miles, I arrived in Santa Monica, CA with over 60,000 stills taken through the windshield. Sequenced together into one video piece, the trip takes just over a half hour.
Interestingly, although the photos taken with the dashboard D-SLR were generated automatically by the intervalometer, there are many striking images in the collection; some rather “happy accidents”. Is the photographer truly acting as photographer when the photos are being snapped by an automatic device? Does this experiment simply demonstrate the notion of “take enough pictures, some are bound to turn out”? Is simply showing up and being there enough? The time lapse video, along with the printed stills from the series, provokes thoughts about authorship, technology, and the speed at which progress creates obsolescence – not only in the realms of photography and communication, but in communities themselves. Route 66 was rendered obsolete when the larger, faster interstate highway system was born, cutting off its towns from the lifeblood of tourist dollars.
Route 66 Dashboard Camera Images
Images from the Route 66 Dashboard Camera can be viewed here.
Dashboard Camera Time Lapse Video
The 60,000+ stills from the dashboard camera, when stitched together, form a half hour virtual road trip of the entire 2400 miles of Route 66, traveling at a speed of about 4800 miles per hour. Here are just a few segments of that video.
segment of dashboard time lapse video