The Photo Story: Road Trip

I took this shot at 5am on the outskirts of Albuquerque, the New Mexico city where Breaking Bad is set and filmed. The light was beautiful in the early morning
Photographer: Mark Read

PHOTOGRAPHS & WORDS: MARK READ

This January, a friend and I drove across America in a 1963 Chevrolet pickup truck. I’d always wanted to do my own road trip, and I’d just moved to Los Angeles from the UK and decided to buy a truck. As I searched online, I chose the option to drive it home from wherever I got it. We began in Virginia and travelled through the American South, following a constraint to make the trip more interesting – only going to places, eating at restaurants and listening to music that were around in 1963.

It was a wonderful trip. There was such a sense of freedom in hitting the open road, and the scenery was so dramatic, from Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains to the wide plains of Mississippi and the desert and red rock of Texas and New Mexico. The people and communities we encountered were just as varied and amazing. I found the Deep South incredibly friendly – at every town we came to, we’d bump into interesting locals, such as an artisan breadmaker in North Carolina and a music producer in Nashville. And a lot of places hadn’t changed dramatically since their mid-20th century heyday, so our 1963-themed experience felt authentic.

I think America lends itself to a road trip better than any other country because of its beautiful landscapes and its diversity, and the fact that it was built on roads and came of age with the motorcar. You’re never more than 100 miles from something interesting, like a beautiful historic town or a new happening – in a day of driving, you’re bound to come across three or four things that are fascinating. I don’t think there’s anywhere else that offers all this. America’s unique.

Mark Read is a British photographer, filmmaker and Lonely Planet Traveller (UK) contributor. See more of his work at www.markreadphotography.co.uk

The Mojave Desert was one of the most beautiful places I saw. As soon as we hit it, the skies got huge. It felt like the Wild West
Photographer: Mark Read
Southern Halo, a rising country music group, poses outside Poor Monkey Lounge in Mississippi, a glorious, chaotic place. It’s one of the last juke joints – clubs set up in plantations, where the blues was invented
Photographer: Mark Read