Personal Project ; Roadside Attractions

Photos © 2004, Barbara Kinney, All Rights Reserved

The think about the road less traveled is that it makes for a quicker commute. Barbara Kinney drives Seattle's Route 99 from her home to her job--she's a picture editor at The Seattle Times--and finds it a better way to go than the Interstate, which replaced 99 as the area's main highway.

Barbara moved to Seattle about three years ago from the East Coast, where she'd been a picture editor and photographer at USA Today, a freelancer in Washington, DC, and personal photographer to President Bill Clinton for six years of his administration, one of four official photographers for the Clinton White House.

It wasn't long before Barbara began noticing the signs along the road. The old motels on the highway had been built for the Seattle World's Fair of 1962, and they were...well, let's say a little run down, but still open for business, and their signs, once the height of hip graphics, were now irresistible examples of what's fondly called retro.

"I loved the look of those old signs," Barbara says, "and as I'd drive into town I'd have my camera, and sometimes I'd specifically go to shoot a sign; other times the light would be just perfect, so I'd stop and take photographs."

In the case of Motel in the Sky, the look she wanted for the photograph didn't last long enough for her to get it. "I was driving home and stopped because we'd had a storm that day and there were really dark storm clouds behind the sign, and I thought that looked cool. But by the time I got to a vantage point the clouds had cleared out and I had a beautiful blue sky instead."