Monday, April 25, 2011

Guest Blogger: Photographer Dan MacDonald

Today I'm pleased to have a guest post by Dan MacDonald. I attended the School of Film & Photography at Montana State University with Dan and had the opportunity to witness his creativity through his photographic projects and the installations for his work at our senior shows. Today Dan shares his new project with us:

Sometimes I Stop Along the Way

I started this project while on a trip this past summer, but the idea had been germinating for sometime before that. I should also start by saying this project is probably an outgrowth of a larger interest I have in architecture. I am not so much interested in the technical aspects or even the design of buildings, but I am interested in them more as a potential physical expression of personal, social, and cultural feeling. Which leads me to the rest areas. Some are utilitarian, some are quite elaborate (sadly none of the ones I’ve shot so far), some have extremely trendy architecture that screams out which decade it was designed in and some are for more modest with a specific era of design and construction difficult to pinpoint. What I find interesting about them is their purpose is extremely utilitarian, primarily a sanitary place to dispose of bodily waste, and secondarily a place to stop along the way for rest from a journey. Yet many states have used them to showcase quite a bit of local pride, and often the designs of these areas reflect some version of the local culture of the region they’re in. Yet I think they’re often overlooked, people are usually in a hurry to get wherever they’re going on a trip, and I mean honestly it’s a place to poop. Yet someone, perhaps a team of someones, spent hours designing this unusual space and yet oddly purposeful place, and more people spent many hours constructing it. 

So I’ve set out to document as many rest areas as I can, my criteria for the project so far has been to only shoot ones that I actually have to stop and (ahem), rest at. I’ve tried to shoot them in a straight-forward documentary fashion that doesn’t try to make them more than they are, but I am taking a more considered shot than just jumping out of the car and snapping the first angle I see. Usually I’ve taken no more than 5 shots at each one and these are shot digitally but have nothing but the most modest of color correction comparable to what would be easily achievable with color film and C-prints. The rest areas seen so far in this project are mostly in Montana, but there are some from Washington, Oregon, and California as well. I see this project continuing for quite some time to come as my travels hopefully take me all over the country.

More of Dan's project and other recent work can be seen on his blog.

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