Pensacola Magazine

Road Trip to Nowhere

Documenting the Rural South in Photos

Photographer Ryan McGlothern grew up in Cottage Hill, Florida — a rural community just north of Cantonment. His images depict his lifelong affinity for the old, busted, rusted and dilapidated. From abandoned vintage cars and trucks to old buildings, signs, schools, sports fields and more, McGlothern beautifully and realistically captures life across Southern Alabama and Northwest Florida.

A doting father and a bridge inspector by trade, McGlothern earned his Bachelor of Science in photography from Florida A&M University.

“While in Tallahassee, I studied underneath and was influenced by some of the best documentary photographers. Their ability to capture and preserve the everyday made me want to do the same,” McGlothern said.

He recently did just that with his documentary photo book titled, “Road Trip to Nowhere.” Using primarily medium format and 35mm film cameras, McGlothern traveled the rural areas that he’s wandered since he was child. With no shot list or plan, he simply pulled over when he saw something interesting and tried to capture both the image and the story behind it.

“I document the old, the unseen, the rusted and left for dead. Everything has a story and I try to capture it,” he said. The book’s title, McGlothern explained, is a play on how the word “nowhere” can become the words “now here.” Both an art project and a meditative experience, McGlothern’s introduction describes the book’s premise perfectly:

“…with my equipment loaded, I drive. Endless circles and intersecting courses, trying to make it somewhere before daybreak. Studying the horizon and praying against rain. I find myself in a constant battle of chasing the light. It leads me through back roads and small towns. Always recalling memories and wondering if any of it still exists. I let my mind roam. I enjoy this. In some ways it’s like an endless road trip, or a road trip to nowhere.”

“Road Trip to Nowhere” is available on the self-publishing platform, blurb, at Follow McGlothern on Instagram at @photo_document to see more of his work and to keep up with plans for future exhibits.