The Amateur Photographer & The Mother Road
Updated: Jul 21, 2022
I'll be honest, I was never into photography. It was just something that I didn't fully understand. What is aperture? Why do you need 5 different lenses? All I knew was that shadows make me look terrible, that I have a "good side" and a "bad side", and that some people are great at photographing "things" while there were others who could photograph "people" really well, thereby reaching legendary god status.
That being said, there's something about being on a road trip that makes us all want to be professional photographers. We see something that excites us or illicit some other emotional response and we want to capture the moment.
Maybe it's because we're in a new place and everything looks different, or maybe we just appreciate the beauty of the world more when we're not stuck in the everyday grind. Whatever the reason, road trips are definitely the time for snapping lots of photos and some destinations are more of an amateur's paradise than others.
If you haven't visited any part of iconic Route 66 yet, definitely add this to your bucket list. The Mother Road reaches from Chicago to Santa Monica, has been traveled since 1926 and is full of more weird and wonderful sights that you won't find anywhere else in the USA. From the world's largest ketchup bottle to the world's largest ball of twine... And let's not forget about all of the vintage diners and motels - they're practically begging to be Instagrammed. I can say with confidence that there are more photo opportunities on Route 66 than anywhere else in the country. As an amateur photographer, I'm 100% here for it.
Most recently, we did a road trip that landed us in Arizona on our way from Las Vegas to Sedona. Instead of taking the faster way on I-40 to Flagstaff, we decided to detour at Kingman and take Route 66 east.
Having previously been on other stretches of Route 66 in other states , we knew we were in for a ton of history, culture, and kitschy sights.
What we were not ready for was the treasure trove of art installations and photo worthy antiques.
When we started off in Kingman, we parked at the Historic Route 66 Museum. Across the street there is the Locomotive Park, home to iconic Steam Engine #3759, and famed Mr. D'z Diner.
I imagine this block alone has been photographed more times than Graceland. Yet, if you have a camera (or cell phone) in hand, you are likely to get some shots that even the world's best known photographers would be envious of.
Tim and I had a method when it came to taking pictures on our trips. We would each wander off in different directions, camera in hand, in search of the perfect picture. Tim would find himself searching for the obscure, while I would be down on the ground or angling up for a unique story. And more often than not we were selecting the same subject, but our shots would end up being completely different. That was the beauty of it. We each had our own unique perspective, and by exploring independently, we were able to capture a wealth of individualized photos. Check out our unique take on "The Guardian Of Route 66" located right outside of Kingman at the Antares Point Visitor Center and Gift Shop
As we cruised down the road we started competing for shots. This was a lot of fun because our next two stops, Peach Springs and Hackberry were places that seemed to be frozen in time.
Nicknamed the "Mother Load of the Mother Road", the Hackberry General Store definitely lived up to it's name when it came to the amount of amazing opportunities for photography.
As soon as we got out of the car, I went left and Tim disappeared into the back of the property. This place was amazing! There were antique cars, appliances, vending machines, gas pumps... you name it! There was also an outhouse, a mechanics garage, and old glory waving to all those passing by. It was like stepping into a time vortex! It was clear that Hackberry lived up to its reputation. In hindsight, I wish we would have stayed longer to explore Hackberry further. But even in the short time we were there, it was clear that Hackberry really is a photographers paradise.
On our journey down Route 66, we were told that this stretch of highway was the inspiration for Disney/Pixar's "Cars". On our way out of Hackberry, we ran into Mater! He was just casually hanging out by the gas station, and he was happy to pose for a few photos. It was a really fun experience, and it just goes to show that truth can be stranger than fiction.
It was time to get back on the road and head towards Seligman, AKA "Radiator Springs"
Seligman was a great stop on the road that time forgot. There, we found all of the kitschy things we had been looking for and a few authentic historical things as well.
The big takeaway from this trip was how easy it was to find great shots among all of the oddities we found. It's my assessment that when things are beautiful or strange, it's easier to be comfortable photographing them. There's no pressure involved in getting the perfect shot because these things are already imperfect. I'm not saying that we didn't take any great shots of the more traditional tourist sites - we did. But, what I am saying is that it was the photos of the things that caught my eye as being different that I'm most proud of. So, if you're ever feeling pressure to get the perfect shot, remember that sometimes the best shots come from the places and things that are a little bit out of the ordinary. Who knows, you might just end up with a collection of photos that are even better than you could have hoped for.
Cheers!!Happy photo hunting!
~ Tiffany & Tim
Note: All photos posted in this blog were shot on our cell phones.
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