In late June I'll embark on a cross country road trip to photograph every vintage sign I can find. These signs and the places they were built for are an integral part of our history. Mom and pop motels, one of a kind diners and family owned businesses built this nation. They gave us reasons to explore Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the Tamiami Trail.
These signs are beautiful and unique. They are art and hard work and hours of labor. These signs matter, and they are quickly disappearing from our landscape.
I want to encourage people to see, appreciate and preserve these pieces of Americana. I want to document as many signs as possible before they are lost from our roadsides and our memories. I want to spend 112 days chasing neon so future generations can stand in front of places like the Blue Swallow Motel and stare in awe.
YOU'VE GOT THE PHOTOS, NOW WHAT?
Taking the photographs is a necessary step, but it's just the beginning.
- These photographs will be shared on social media including my blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr. Each photograph will include geographical coordinates so people can find and enjoy these signs in person. Social media is a powerful tool and I intend to use it.
- Every photograph will become part of the collection held at the Library of Congress to be discovered by current and future generations long after this trip is finished.
- Photographs will be made available to owners of small businesses to assist with the promotion of their shop, motel, or restaurant. If a business can't keep its doors open, it can't maintain its neon sign.
- Prints and gift cards will be donated to organizations working to preserve and document sign history, such as The American Sign Museum and The Society for Commercial Archaeology. As a sign geek I want nothing more than to save these signs.
- Finally there is a book coming. I don't care if I have to self publish, create it through Blurb or find a publisher, it will be made.
If you have any suggestions to further increase the impact of these photographs I would love to hear them. The more good we can do together, the better.
LET'S TALK COSTS
The thing about traveling the country is your vehicle needs fuel. I've roughly mapped out the trip route and it totals 21,000 miles. This doesn't include side trips to every sign, detours, or getting lost... I expect the gas cost alone will reach $10,000, particularly as fuel prices climb in the summer months. I've saved enough to purchase the Winnebago and cover personal costs but need your help to put gas in the tank.
Risks and challenges
Any four month long road trip across America is bound to face challenges and potential set backs. The trusted Winnebago might break down, weather could divert the planned route, and signs may be gone. Traveling with camera equipment also opens the door to theft.
In order to tackle these risks I've planned ahead. Mini Winnie has undergone a series of upgrades, routine maintenance and preemptive repairs to keep her running well on the road. The trip plan is flexible, allowing me to avoid bad weather so I don't spend a single day not photographing signs, and I've done my homework to avoid chasing signs that have been torn down. I may not have been a girl scout, but you'd never know it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)