Shannon Richardson
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It is sometimes difficult to believe that Shannon Richardson’s photographs of American motels are from the 21st Century and not the archives of an old Hollywood film studio with sets from the 1950s. The images depict the present whilst also representing the past. Richardson lives in Amarillo, Texas. He took the shots along Route 66, the legendary road running from Chicago to Santa Monica straight through the American Mid-West. Again and again he would detour down a small side street to capture these icons of transient hospitality. Their fragile structures rest patiently at the side of the road as if time stood still. Oases of a culture of mobility, bright advertising banners entice weary travellers in. Today they are just as likely to appear as models in a film set, a film noir featuring John Huston or Billy Wilder, as they are on a contemporary American street. This is exactly what Richardson wants. It allows him to reveal just how much of the myth of the old West remains alongside the modern transport route. The composition of his images is influenced in no small way by the icons of American street photography: Robert Adams, Lee Friedlaner, Stephen Shore, and William Eggleston. Strong black and white contrasts, neon lights dazzling against jet-black nights. The style is typical of film noir, a genre whose tragic heroes find accommodation in such smoky motels. Yet Richardson is not engaging in nostalgia for film or photography, but rather conducting a search in the style of memory. Minute details in the images remind us of the era we live in. An advertisement for free internet, the rear lights of a car as it disappears into the night. The images are both a photographic chronology of the famous route and a poetic snapshot of American culture over the last 99 years.

Stephan Reisner
Works as advertising photographer
Lives in Amarillo, Texas, USA

Awards (Selection)

2007Best Black and White Photography, Photobloggies
Won the Addy Award three times, best of the show

Books/Catalogs (Selection)

Shannon Richardson: Route 66 American Icon

Essays/Articles (Selection)

Graphics Photo Annual, 2001
JPG Magazine

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