Fine Art Photography Daily

Ryann Ford: The Last Stop – A Photo Book of America’s Rest Stops

Abiquiu NM

Ryann Ford has collected a great typology, depicting americana in the finest.  Over the last 15 years, she has traveled between 17 states while photographing over 75 rest stops along the way.  These stops, simple yet quirky, are a reminder of how endearing the road can be.  Ryann had started a Kickstarter, aiming to compile the rest stops into a book.  Even though her goal of $25,000 has been met, there is still one day to contribute to the project, and pre-ordering has now begun. 

Raised in a Southern California mountain town so small it didn’t even have a stoplight, Ryann had the freedom to explore and observe from a young age. At age 12, she took her first photo using her father’s old Pentax Spotmatic from Vietnam; at age 18 she enrolled in the renowned Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Photography.

Living in Los Angeles, Ryann’s creative work began to focus toward two subjects: artifacts of the abandoned American desert, and the fading landscape of California’s Salton Sea. She was represented by Gallery 825 and shown by the Mulvane Art Museum, the Farmani Gallery, and Lauryn Taylor Fine Art in Carmel.

In 2007, Ryann packed up her things and made the move to Austin, Texas, taking Route 66 to get there. Along the way, she discovered her next photography subject – the rest stop – a project that culminated in THE LAST STOP series. This work has been covered by outlets such as The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and NPR.

Ryann is currently a commercial photographer who shoots regularly for such clients as Better Homes and Gardens, The New York Times, and Texas Monthly. Her meticulously composed architectural and interior photography has become an industry favorite, and it is this style – clean and thoughtful – that continues to inform her fine art today.

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The Last Stop

The Last Stop is a photography book documenting the vanishing roadside rest area of America’s highways. 

Shortly after moving to Texas from California seven years ago, I was struck by a recurring sight – the humble rest stop. The more of these roadside parks I saw, the more inspired I became – there were tables shaded by faux oil rigs, teepees and wagon wheels, and geometric shapes echoing classic mid-century design.

I decided to do a little research on these stops and immediately found out the alarming news. All over the country, rest areas were being closed, and some demolished. Many felt that they were no longer necessary with so many fast food restaurants and travel centers.

Upon learning the news, I immediately felt an urgency that I needed to capture as many as I could before they were gone forever.

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To date, I’ve shot well over 150 rest stops and learned that they are so much more than toilets and tables – for the past 58 years they have given us rest, relief, hospitality, and nostalgia.  

When interstate highways were first built, passing up many small towns, rest stops were a way to reconnect people to the places they were traveling though. They gave small towns a chance to show their cultural significance.

Rest areas have become relics of America’s roadside past. These sites not only illustrate a unique period in the American travel experience, but are significant for the architectural forms found within them.

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Clines Corners NM

Flower Mound TX

Ft Stockon TX

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