Little Things That Inspire my Photography: Motel Rooms


Arizona, United States. It’s getting dark. We’ve been driving for almost six hours but it’s almost over. I can’t remember most of the day, just… dusty deserts and endless straight roads. It’s one of those road trip days: Long and mind-numbing. We need sleep. My phone says the motel is just around the corner and that’s always an exciting moment and a tad stressful. A new motel room… is it going to be like they advertised it? How weird will the neighbors be? How old will the furniture be? Motel rooms… I love them.

Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

We pull up the parking lot. It looks… fine, I guess? You never know until you’re actually sleeping. It could either be a peaceful night or a test to see how much you can cope with weird sound and people screaming. The guy behind the reception seems nice.

“Passports, sign here and this your key. Room 23. Have a good night.”

And the room? We’re lucky. Clean and comfortable. No noisy or weird neighbours. It’s going to be a good night and we need it. Tomorrow there’s another long drive. Straight roads and dusty deserts. On to the next motel…

Related read • Road Trip Battle: East Coast Australia vs West Coast USA

Photography inspiration

Everything can be an inspiration for your photography. Why do I find motel rooms interesting and inspiring? It’s not just the room. It’s the whole experience and it probably has to do with movies and road trips. Movies have always been an inspiration for my photography and somehow, if there’s a lot of scenes in motels, I like the movie no matter what. Hah. Yeah, it’s weird but I always get excited when we’re staying in a motel room because it feels like I’m going to another reality.

Bakersfield, California.

Bakersfield, California.

Motel rooms are a symbol for freedom and traveling. Road trips and exploring. How many great stories took place in that one motel room you’re staying in? Yeah, and how many gross ones, right? But don’t think too much about those. I’m sure motel rooms inspire many writers and movie makers as well in similar or different ways. It’s just all about telling stories.

You know, where are the people next door going and why? What’s their story. You never know what’s going to happen when you’re staying in a motel room but it always feels like an adventure. The essence of traveling and exploring. The American road trip.

Road trip photographers

And then there is photography and road trips. Great photographers traveling from one motel room to the next documenting everything along the way. There’s something magical about photographing a road trip or a cross country travel in the United States. It’s the ultimate experience of capturing moments and the soul of a country. Just moments in time and people you see and meet when you’re on the road and exploring streets. That’s why street photography and travel photography work so well together.

San Luis Obispo, California.

San Luis Obispo, California.

The Americans by Robert Frank is one of those photo books that will show you exactly what I mean. A photographic cross section of America. Moments, people and places. That feeling of going places to photograph them. It shows you exactly why I like road trips, traveling and motel rooms as a photographer. It’s one of those weird personal inspiration sources for my photography. But I’m sure every photographer has one of those. If you want to see more, this is one of my favorite personal road trip projects.

Tell me, what inspires your photography? Is it ‘weird’? ;-)