May the Road Rise to Meet You by Sara Macel

Issue 39

For years, I traveled on road trips throughout America taking photographs. The inspiration for this project was making the connection between my desire for the road and the fact that my father, for thirty years, has traveled these same routes as a telephone pole salesman. As my father reaches the end of his career, the role in society of the traveling salesman is also entering its twilight. May the Road Rise to Meet You explores the life of a businessman alone on the road. On a larger scale, this project explores the changing nature of “the road” in American culture and in the history of photography. With these images, I created a visual narrative of my father’s life separate from our family structure. There is little photographic evidence of his life at work or on the road just as most people have very little visual evidence of the time they spend at work. In the same way that a family photo album functions to present an idealized version of their history, these photographs are what both my father and I want the visual narrative of his working life to be remembered as.

In addition to shadowing my father now, I also examined his old files and revisited places from his past. When possible, I visit actual places he did, but I also sought out places that match the fantasies I had as a child of where my father went on his business trips. The resulting self-published book and series of prints blend together my road trips in which I search for traces of my father with the images we made while traveling together and found snapshots and scraps of hotel stationary in which he wrote notes to himself over the years.

As much as my father is an active participant in the making of this project, there are areas of his work life that he has not allowed me to photograph. For every room in his memory that he lets me in, there is another I am left to imagine for myself. The blending of fact and fiction speaks to the reality that I can never fully know my father or what it is like to be a man on the road. On a larger scale, the project also explores the subjective nature of truth that is at the very heart of photography.

Sara Macel is a Brooklyn, NY based photographer.
To view more of Sara's work, please visit her website

  In the Company Car in 1981, Spring, Texas

In the Company Car in 1981, Spring, Texas

  Recognition Lifts the Human Spirit, Spring, Texas  

Recognition Lifts the Human Spirit, Spring, Texas  

  Boots, Seaford, New York 

Boots, Seaford, New York 

  Plane Over Baton Rouge, Louisiana 

Plane Over Baton Rouge, Louisiana 

  Sayville Motor Lodge, Sayville, New York 

Sayville Motor Lodge, Sayville, New York 

  Room 126, Sayville Motor Lodge, Sayville, New York 

Room 126, Sayville Motor Lodge, Sayville, New York 

  Profile of a Salesman, Hitchcock, Texas  

Profile of a Salesman, Hitchcock, Texas  

  Motel Notes, Pittsburgh Airport Marriott, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  

Motel Notes, Pittsburgh Airport Marriott, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  

  After the Rain, Houston, Texas 

After the Rain, Houston, Texas 

  7:00 AM, Denny’s Breakfast, Spring, Texas 

7:00 AM, Denny’s Breakfast, Spring, Texas 

  Behind the Wood Treatment Plant, Jasper, Texas 

Behind the Wood Treatment Plant, Jasper, Texas 

  The Towering Figure, Huntsville, Texas 

The Towering Figure, Huntsville, Texas 

  Motel Notes, Hilton Hotel, Omaha, Nebraska 

Motel Notes, Hilton Hotel, Omaha, Nebraska 

  First-Class, Continental Flight 1033, LaGuardia Airport, New York, New York  

First-Class, Continental Flight 1033, LaGuardia Airport, New York, New York  

  Foggy Runway, Will Rogers World Airport, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 

Foggy Runway, Will Rogers World Airport, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 

  Where He Waits for Me, George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, Texas 

Where He Waits for Me, George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, Texas 

  Hampton Inn, San Antonio, Texas 

Hampton Inn, San Antonio, Texas 

  How to Escape, Bushwick Motel, Brooklyn, New York 

How to Escape, Bushwick Motel, Brooklyn, New York 

  Westbank Motel Revisited, Idaho Falls, Idaho  

Westbank Motel Revisited, Idaho Falls, Idaho  

  Dennis Anthony Macel, Hitchcock, Texas 

Dennis Anthony Macel, Hitchcock, Texas