Saturday, September 09, 2006


Just as wonderful as shop windows. Big chain motels are boring, but if you’re a starving artist looking for the least expensive place to stay, you may be rewarded with wonderful things to look at and maybe make into photographs.

Cheap is good, but there’s more to it. On photography expeditions I travel in a pickup truck loaded with 5x7, 8x0, 7x17, and 12x20 inch camera outfits, accessory case, film case and film-changing tent, etc. Plus the digital capture set. It’s something like seven cases averaging forty pounds apiece, a suitcase for clothes, and coolers for food. The last thing I want is the central-entry layout of “better” motels. Every item I can’t leave in the truck needs to be carried to the front entry, through the lobby, down the hall, and up the stairs to the second level and then down another hallway to reach the room. No, I want a room entry like this:

The room was fine and cost under $50. It took about three minutes to move everything from the truck to the room, and the same to put everything back in the morning before the sun rose. So I got an inexpensive room, low stress handling of the equipment, and in the bargain a gold mine of photographic subjects. This is the view between the two wings of the motel:

Who left the mop there? It’s perfect. I couldn't dream that up and ask for it.

Have you ever hung anything up in a motel room? If so, did you leave your dry cleaner coat hangers there? How did the hangers wind up here?

I think the grill is communal. The desk was busy when I walked past so I didn’t ask if the grill was there for guests to use. Anyway, I didn’t have the makings, or the charcoal. Cheap motels generally have little refrigerators and microwave ovens while more expensive places do not. If you pay a lot more for your room, the management will expect you to call room service and pay too much for bad food. This was the first time I encountered a barbeque along with the in-room amenities.

The fuel tank. Now this is a real "Installation."


Harald Leban said...

I think it´s time for a remake of "Bates Motel". The set looks really scary to me. I like it how you captured this special scenery - but wher are all the other guests - under the coal in the cellar...?

Barb said...

My dad used to take us on trips when I was young (1950's) and these were the very kind of motels - only he liked the ones with 'kitchenetts'. It brings back memories!. Like the images.

pfong said...

This series gives me a strong sense of the transience and loneliness of the motel lifestyle. The mop, the red chair and the barbecue are delightful touches.

Carl said...

Thanks everyone. I promise more motel pictures before long. Maybe even spookier. Barb, sorry I didn't catch the double post, but thanks for writing.---Carl

Michael said...

Nice to see your blog! And nice to be put in touch with the heartland via motels. I'll be a regular visitor.