Touring America with an iPhone
Think road trip and the sensory richness of childhood comes to mind: a rush of wind through an open window, the world whizzing by in a blur. It seems almost quaint, doesn’t it? Driving from west to east, America unfurling one mile at a time. But now, the journey itself has become inseparable from the photographing of it. With our ever-smaller devices, we record what we see, so that when we return home, we’ll remember what moved us, how free we felt.
Whether the snowcapped mountains of Colorado or a kitschy Elvis statue in Nashville, these fleeting images are infused with a sweet wistfulness for the past—a time of innocence, of slowness and ease. What would we do if we had nothing but hours to while away? The highway stretches in front of us; the country is revealed in all its minutiae. God, a wise man once said, is in the details.
The colors of memory itself are oversaturated just in the way of these photographs, captured using the vintage-inspired Hipstamatic iPhone app. But wait: Is this real nostalgia, or an ironic stance? After all, we’re seeing the country through the lens of an iPhone. Reto Caduff’s photographs look old but not old—the colors are brighter than any Kodachrome—so he seems to be rewriting history, complete with text-message-style captions. Nothing ever really looked this way—but perhaps we wish it did. With smart phones in hand, we can, and do, attempt to capture and communicate everything. Who knows what will matter to us later? Memory becomes bolder, sharper, edging its way into our present lives. This happened, we are reminded again. Once we were here. —Dani Shapiro
Eagle Rock, the start of my four-week road trip.
A quick stop at the Flintstone theme park. Only in America.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Just in time to catch the sunset.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Cowgirl’s burger and fries.
Grand Junction, Colorado
Uncle Marco’s house. Love the rabbit in the backyard.
San Juan National Forest, Colorado
After a week in the sunny Southwest, the open road with snow.
Sending this photo to my wife at home.
I only knew of the city from Larry Clark’s famous photo book, Tulsa. Like the place.
Can’t wait to make it to Kansas City, Missouri. Never been.
Meeting Elvis in downtown Nashville.
Kansas City, Missouri
Outside Union Station. So many creative people here. A highlight of the trip.
On the road again. Flat, flat, flat for miles.
It’s so different from the other places I’ve visited. A truly unique corner of the U.S.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
The sand is nearly empty. The beach has a nice sadness to it.
Heading toward Raleigh. That’s the way I want to travel next time—in style, with an Airstream.
I love stopping in random small towns. Culpeper has an old-fashioned Americana feeling.
I get the East Coast feel for the first time. The last stretch of the trip begins.
I know the city, so just driving through this time. No need to stop at the Washington Monument.
Atlantic City, New Jersey
When I open the curtains in the morning, the boardwalk is right in front of me.
Six thousand–plus miles and four weeks after my departure, I see the sign for New York.
New York City
Enjoying the view from my friend Henry’s rooftop, before it’s back to L.A.