Photographs of America(na)

About The Usual

THE USUAL PLACES  |  Omnipresent places in our collective memory.

What is it that makes a place both unique and ubiquitous at the same time?

The places in these photographs are not abandoned or deserted, they are still hard at work and the open sign still hangs in the window every day except Sundays. In order to enhance their universal nature, most of these photos were taken between breakfast and lunch, usually with the owner standing beside me behind the camera sharing anecdotes and asking me if I needed anything. Each place tells a story of a street-level experience where we can peer through the plate glass windows and get a sense of what’s going on inside.

I believe there’s a collective familiarity with our roadside Americana that’s universal from California to Maine. If you’ve ever eaten at Tony’s Pizzaria you won’t forget the experience, but even if you’ve never been there, you still understand it, because it’s part of America’s collective memory. We couldn’t be more contented there, it’s like that in most places like this.

Some classic spots are disappearing, being replaced by places that are turning America into Generica. These photographs are a ten-year documentation of places that offer nails by the pound, a slice of warm Marionberry pie and chili-fries to go. Look into these images, see the details, smell the coffee and imagine taking a step off the sidewalk, opening the squeaky screen door and walking into a bit of a time capsule.

It’s authenticity that makes the usual places both unique and ubiquitous… and it’s all on the other side of the plate glass.

-Schaf  2-2013

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