by Ben Willmore | Aug 10, 2015
Hi gang! I’ve been zipping all over between different events lately, and I even managed to get some shooting in. As you may know, I have an ongoing photography project that involves shooting a bunch of vintage service stations all over the United States. When we’re living in the bus (our RV), this is a lot easier because we’re constantly on the road. Lately, since we’ve been temporarily staying in one place, the project hasn’t seen much progress. However, I had a few speaking events in the midwest this month, and instead of flying between them, I decided to rent a car and check off some of the service stations that were on my list. In just a few days, I shot nearly a dozen stations and put about 1,000 miles on my rental car!
In total, I’ve found over 200 service stations that I want to photograph. My criteria is that they have to be vintage and that they must still have the building, pumps and sign. Many people ask me whether the stations are ever still in service and 99% of the time, the answer is no. Some of them have been preserved, some have been restored and converted into something else (office, pizza parlor, etc.) and some are in various stages of deterioration.
When I photograph the stations, I always take an iPhone shot first and then spend more time creating an image with my “big boy camera.” It’s nice to have the iPhone shots so that I can share them immediately, whereas it takes me a very long time to edit all of the raw files.
Here is a visual recap of my road trip and the service stations I photographed. These are all iPhone shots. More to come!
This is the route I drove to capture the stations between events.
The first station was in Madison, Kansas.
Second service station in Kansas.
This was a bonus station right around the corner from another one I shot in Wetmore, Kansas. I didn’t have this one in my database.
I captured this one, in Wetmore, Kansas, in the evening and then returned for the morning light, which is what you’re seeing here.
Captured this little beauty, which is hidden on private land that you have to hike to, in New Cambria, Missouri.
This one, in Macon, Missouri, had too new of pumps and wasn’t in the best shape, so I disguised it with a heavy texture treatment here.
This one, in Centerville, Iowa, took a while to capture since there was a pick up truck parked out front and it took almost an hour to find the owner and get them to move it.
This one has too much junk covering up the essence of the station so it also gets a heavy texture treatment. This one is a barbecue joint these days, in Lees Summit, Missouri.
After presenting a seminar all day in Kansas City, I hit the road to capture more stations. Here’s the first capture, in Clinton, Missouri.
Got to this location after dark and had to wait until morning to capture it. It’s a cute little station, but it felt odd spending an entire night in a town where my cell phone indicated “no signal”. (Stover, Missouri)
I was happy to get to this nice little Texaco station right before the rain hit. I was able to get my shot and the moment I started to drive away the rain started to fall! This is in De Soto, Missouri.
I was big-time bummed that the sign was missing here! It’s located inside the building, but is not currently hung. I’ve shot this station before, but didn’t have an ideal shot. I returned with my tilt/shift lens hoping to get something better, but that will have to happen another day. This one is on RT66, in Mount Olive, Illinois.