The sequential nature of documenting a journey is illustrated by classic ‘road trip’ series such as Paul Graham’s A1 project, Stephen Shore’s American Surfaces, Alec Soth’s Sleeping by the Mississippi and Robert Frank’s The Americans.
Go online and find out more about the bodies of work listed above.
Paul Graham – A1 project
The A1 project was carried out in 1981 and 1982 by Graham, and was a road trip up and down the A1 (The Great North Road that linked the north and south of England), documenting life in areas around the A1 through photographs. The pictures show people in cafes and on streets, as well as the road itself and its surrounding landscape.
Stephen Shore – American Surfaces
American Surfaces was a 1972-73 project by Shore and was, again, a roadtrip documented through photographs, but this time in the US. Shore says his idea was to ‘…build a kind of cultural picture of the country at the time.’ via pictures of where he went, what he ate, and who he met on the way.
Alec Soth – Sleeping by the Mississippi
Sleeping by the Mississippi was a five year photography project of consisting of pictures taken along the Mississippi River, and features landscapes, people and interiors. As he photographed, he asked his subject to write down their dreams. He explores themes of death, religion, and sex, and often found the photos of the inside of people’s homes more interesting than the portrait pictures he’d gone inside to take.
Robert Frank – The Americans
The Americans was an iconic 1958 photobook by the late Swiss photographer Robert Frank. Frank had re-located to America in the 40s and The Americans was a book of 83 photos (picked from the 27,000 that Frank took!), taken all over America. The pictures were pointedly unglamorous and the ‘street photography’ style was a new concept at the time. At the time, the work was met with contempt by critics, and not well received, due to the harsh picture it painted of the country.
It seems that Frank was not particularly interested in getting to know the subjects he photographed, rather he hovered in the background.
Can you find some other examples of photography documenting a journey through time and/or space (see Project 3)?
There are absolutely loads of these types of photography projects out there, but some interesting ones I found are:
Vasantha Yogananthan – A Myth of Two Souls
This project retraces the north to south India route described in the Ramayana, a historical Hindu text documenting the journey of Rama’s life. The photo series is a mix of documentary and staged photos, and combines many different techniques.
The RathKopf’s Breast Cancer Journey
When Anna Rathkopf was diagnosed with breast cancer, her and her husband decided to document the journey through photographs which can be seen at the link above, as well as here, alongside an interview with the couple.
Cristian Carollo – Past Present Project
This project was born when the photographer found a photograph of a building on the Oregon Coastline that his grandfather had taken, and decided to replicate it. The photograph garnered interest, and Carollo decided to replicate more of the photos, travelling to all the places depicted in order to recreate them.
Rolf Sachs – Camera In Motion: From Chur to Tirano
Camera in Motion comprises of photographs taken by Sachs from a moving train travelling between Switzerland and Italy. The varied speed of the train produced photos with varying degrees of motion blur. There is an interview about the project here.