A Drive-In Photographer’s Cross-Country Odyssey

The Daily Mail of the UK pointed me this weekend to a story that I had overlooked. Photographer Lindsey Rickert, inspired by her memories of attending drive-ins as a young girl, launched a successful Kickstarter campaign then set off on her own drive-in odyssey to take remarkable pictures of living and dead theaters. She shot 28 drive-ins across 32 states in 65 days, driving 12,022 miles on a cross-country round trip. The result was a serious coffee-table book, Drive-In America, published in 2015.

In her travel blog, Rickert describes the glorious and the mundane details of her trek, such as her complaints about the weather. “I probably should be doing a photo book about storm chasing since it seems that is what I have been doing this entire trip,” she wrote. “While the rain has delayed me a few times, I’m not about to let it hold me down.”

Her story was picked up by Atlas Obscura a few weeks ago, which I’d guess was how the Daily Mail noticed it. Rickert said she started her planning by looking for standing, dead drive-ins. “I placed a large map on my wall, where I placed thumbtacks everywhere I found interesting locations, and the route started to form,” she said. “There was always the possibility that the remnants had been demolished before I could get there — luckily that only happened once.” Promising live drive-ins were added along the way.

I wish I could post some of Rickert’s amazing photos, such as those you can find in the Daily Mail and Atlas Obscura articles, but in addition, I urge you to visit the drive-in section of Rickert’s own web site. There’s even a link to buy the book at a much lower price than Amazon’s showing now.

I’m so impressed by these photos, and they strum a personal chord for me. Around that time, I had thought of shooting a coffee table book of (active) drive-in photos. Since then, I’ve started my own drive-in-a-day cross-country odyssey. (It’s only virtual, but I included Canada and I’m already over 16,000 miles.) It’s an amazing gift to actually view the spectacular output of my road not taken.