Art & Design

Photo Essay: America Through the Eyes of the Impossible Project

Art & Design

Photo Essay: America Through the Eyes of the Impossible Project

Waiting to leave Boston. 5 AM, 20 degrees.
Just a bear in the big city. No big deal.
Fast forward to Ohio, and it looks like this.
Truck stop hottie getting Internet famous.
There were serious meetings happening all around us in Chicago.
Chicago hotel morning. You can almost see Al Capone in the window over there.
The pure joy of Waffle House virgins.
There are so many of these in the Midwest that you’d think the Earth would get pushed off its orbit.
Gettin’ cheesy in Wisconsin.
This dude DJ’s a bar in Minnesota from the attic, “best job ever, bro”.
Tretorn is a Swedish brand, so when they heard about these Dala horses in northern Minnesota, it was go-time. Then we got there and it was -10 degrees, and it became “get back in the car” time.
They all kind of look the same in the dark.
This sunrise is brought to you by Sonic.
When you spend two weeks in a car with four people, this is good advice.
Culinary adventures in truck stop land.
This guy just sat there for the longest time, sighing and looking at his watch. Sometimes can suck.
The Midwest.
Pretty surprised to find President Obama waiting in the North Platte, Nebraska Days Inn lobby at 4 AM.
Just another roadside attraction.
Buffalo busking.
Sadly, it was sold out.
Ran into these cats in Colorado enjoying early AM Bloody Marys. When asked if they were in a band, they fist bumped, “hells yeah”.
The Sinclair gas logo is a dinosaur. And gas is just old dinosaurs. Get it?
Buffalo Bill’s ghost at Buffalo Bill’s official gravesite.
50 degrees out and ice fishing in the Colorado mountains.
Social media kingpin Bryant Eslava tries his luck.
This was in a real ghost town. Scary trip moment: all of our shots from this place came out weird. Spooky.
The long and icy road to Utah
All the plants in Moab were covered with a ¼” of crystal clear ice.
Sunrise in Moab at Balanced Rock.
Ain’t no party like a gutter punk burrito party.
Skate shoe upcycling.
Wide open road.
This gent had travelled almost 2 thousand miles to pray on what to do with his new back to the land church.
Best named gas station. Period.
Economic development.
Another day, another Waffle House.
The mayor of Park City.
Pensive moments with Mad Men’s January Jones at Sundance.
Our bartender at the High West Distillery’s reaction to, well, everything we had to say.
The Milkman and friends get down at Sundance.
Street style with Leila
If it’s not on Instagram, it’s not real.
This fellow opened for Naughty By Nature and had the crowd all wound up.
Sundance is down with OPP.
Rising or setting? Who can tell anymore?

The road trip is an American classic. A rite of passage, one of those things everyone “has” to do at least once. Crossing the wide, lonely expanses of our country, moments fading into hours as mile markers blaze up then fade away into the darkness behind, puts things into a new perspective.

It’s also a lot of fun.

While the road trip story is a classic, it has also been done to death by touring companies and bands. It was my thought that taking the northern route, driving the Interstate in the dead of winter and hitting roadside attractions along the way, would give a new twist to an old idea. How many people want to drive 12 hours out of their way in negative degree weather to take a photo of a Swedish horse sculpture?  We did.  And I have the windburn to prove it.

The idea for this trip was pretty simple: Team up with Swedish shoe brand Tretorn and drive from their HQ in Boston to Salt Lake City, shooting photos along the way with Impossible Project instant film,  on old Polaroid cameras. Upon arrival, the images would be culled into a ‘zine and pop-up photo exhibit for the Outdoor Retailer Show and Sundance Film Festival, respectively.

One thing you can count on with any adventure like this is eventually it will take on a life of its own.  All those hours in the car forge a tribe-like bond between travelers, an us-against-them mentality that makes other, more normal interactions seem strange at first.  One’s sense of personal space and what is appropriate become skewed… There are no secrets in the humid confines of a mid-size SUV.

I’ll let the photos tell the story, but between harassing toll attendants, crashing a high-end men’s clothier with our resident bear, ice fishing next to a ghost town in the Colorado mountains in spring-like temperatures, almost freezing to death in Moab and somehow winding up at a Naughty By Nature concert at the Sundance Film Festival, it was one hell of a ride.

All photos taken on Impossible Project PX680 Color Protection film, with the exception of the lone black and white image, which is on PX100 silver shade.

See more of our adventures on Instgram via username jjamesjoiner and #tretorntrip

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