About this project
Hello! My name is Ryann Ford and I'm a photographer based in Austin, TX.
For the past five years, I've driven all over the country documenting America's rest stops.
With drive-thrus and gas stations at nearly every exit, rest areas are losing the fight and are vanishing in nearly every state.
Shortly after moving to Texas from California seven years ago, I was struck by a recurring sight - the humble rest stop. The more of these roadside parks I saw, the more inspired I became - there were tables shaded by faux oil rigs, teepees and wagon wheels, and geometric shapes echoing classic mid-century design.
I decided to do a little research on these stops and immediately found out the alarming news. All over the country, rest areas were being closed, and some demolished. Many felt that they were no longer necessary with so many fast food restaurants and travel centers.
Upon learning the news, I immediately felt an urgency that I needed to capture as many as I could before they were gone forever.
Why is this Project Important?
To date, I’ve shot well over 150 rest stops and learned that they are so much more than toilets and tables – for the past 58 years they have given us rest, relief, hospitality, and nostalgia.
When interstate highways were first built, passing up many small towns, rest stops were a way to reconnect people to the places they were traveling though. They gave small towns a chance to show their cultural significance.
Rest areas have become relics of America's roadside past. These sites not only illustrate a unique period in the American travel experience, but are significant for the architectural forms found within them.
Soon after I started this project, it became clear that this was more than just a photo series. These rest stops are an important part of American history that need to be archived before they're lost forever. It became my dream to shoot as many as I could before they're lost and to compile them into a book that truly showcases what these rest areas have to offer.
I envision a beautiful, over-sized, full-color, hardcover coffee table book filled with breathtaking images, approximately 100 pages, 75 images. The book would also begin with a historical textual essay.
From the beginning, I knew that I wanted the quality of the images to be unmatched - I also wanted a medium that was true to the nostalgia of the subject.
In today's digital world, one of the unique aspects of the project is that all of the images were shot on a medium-format film camera. Film is a lost art in itself that produces extremely high-resolution images with supreme tonal range and color.
We are offering a great selection of rewards, everything from one-of-a-kind Polaroids, to amazing experiences, to of course, the book itself!
$5 or more - THANKS: You will receive an invitation to the book launch party here in Austin, TX, and your name will be listed as a donor on the book website. You will also receive my deepest gratitude and know that you are helping preserve America's history!
$25 or more - POLAROID: Receive an original, one-of-a-kind signed Polaroid that was actually taken on one of my road trips, at an actual rest stop. This is not a digital reproduction - this is an original, actual Polaroid straight out of the back of my Mamiya RZ medium-format camera. A great souvenir from the road! Receive everything at the $5 level, too!
$50 or more - HOLIDAY RUSH PRINT: You will receive a beautiful 8.5x11" signed archival print of your choice. You can choose from any of the 20 images on my website. Since they make a great gift, choose this option to ensure you'll receive before Christmas! Receive everything at the $5 level, too!
$50 or more - PRINT & POLAROID: You will receive a beautiful 8.5x11" signed archival print of your choice. You can choose from any of the 20 images on my website. You will also receive an original, one-of-a-kind signed Polaroid that was actually taken on one of my road trips. Receive everything at the $5 level, too!
$65 or more - THE BOOK (EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT): You will receive a signed copy of THE LAST STOP BOOK! You will also receive an invite to the book launch party and your name listed as a donor on the website. Hurry, first 25 books only!
$75 or more - THE BOOK: Get a signed copy of THE LAST STOP BOOK! You will also receive an invite to the book launch party and your name listed as a donor on the website.
$100 or more - BOOK, PRINT & POLAROID: This is the one you want! You will receive a signed copy of THE LAST STOP BOOK, an 8.5x11" signed archival print of your choice, an original, signed Polaroid from one of my trips, an invite to the book launch party, and your name listed as a donor on the website.
$250 or more - EXPERIENCE PACKAGE: Be our guests at this experience of a lifetime as we host a farm-to-table pop-up dinner at one of Texas' first rest stops near Smithville, TX, about 30 minutes outside of Austin. Not your typical rest stop - dine high atop a hill, surrounded by beautiful oaks and classic mid century architecture. Enjoy a multi-course meal and wine pairings, plus a few more surprises. Also includes all of the items at the $100 level.
$1000 or more - ULTIMATE PACKAGE: You receive a stunning, signed and numbered, museum quality, limited edition print of your choice and everything at the $100 level. Print is 24"x29" and is limited to an edition of only 15 prints. You can choose from any of the 20 images on my website.
$1250 or more - ULTIMATE PACKAGE & DINNER EXPERIENCE: You will receive a signed and numbered, museum quality, limited edition print of your choice and everything at the $250 level. Print is 24"x29" and is limited to an edition of only 15 prints. You can choose from any of the 20 images on my website.
$4000 or more - MEET ME IN SANTA FE! : Photography & Art enthusiasts will love this trip! Meet me in Santa Fe, NM, as I show you around some of my favorite locations. We will custom design a two-day trip that will include a visit to places such as The Ghost Ranch (made famous by Georgia O'Keeffe), Bandelier National Monument, Abiquiu, Santa Fe’s many museums and galleries - we will even visit and shoot a few of the iconic stops featured in the book. Learn more details in the rewards column at right.
Thank you so much for taking the time to explore my Kickstarter page! Keep up with the progress of the project here on this page, tag along on the road by following us on social media, and as you're traveling this holiday season, tag us in pics of the rest stops you come across on Instagram, or post them on THE LAST STOP BOOK Facebook page. You might just find one that I haven't discovered yet!
Read more on the project below -
Listen to me on NPR
Risks and challenges
We are currently exploring our options when it comes to how the book will be published. We may go with a publisher, or we may decide to self-publish. Either way, this has been my dream since the beginning, so the book will definitely be published. Because of these uncertainties, production delays may come up, the publishing date may be pushed back, and the final format cannot be guaranteed. Images of book are for illustration purposes only.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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