Photographer Looks to Retrace the Footsteps of Robert Frank in ‘The Americans’

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Similar in nature to the tribute Peter Essick paid to Ansel Adams, photographer Trenton Moore is on a mission to quite literally retrace the footsteps of famed photographer Robert Frank.

In his project titled Retracing America: A Photo Roadtrip, Essick hopes to visit the exact same locations Frank did for his iconic 1957 photo book The Americans.

Almost 60 years ago, Robert Frank set out on a series of road trips across America. His vision was to capture the scenery in America, just as it was, on a day-to-day basis. The idea was to capture the essence of America, one honest frame at a time, as seen through the lens of someone who was equally discovering these moments for himself.

It wasn’t just the trips that made his work stand out though. It was his determined mindset to capture the scenes many shied away from photographing: racism, religion and even the considerably boring suburban life. The best of the work he captured ended up in a book he aptly titled, The Americans.

One best-selling photography books of all time, and widely considered a seminal work, The Americans is as relevant conceptually now as it was sixty years ago, despite how much the physical and sociological landscape of America has changed.


This fall, Trenton More hopes to head out on a three-month road trip almost identical to Robert Frank’s during his travels through the mid–50s. With over 90 stops planned, Moore’s itinerary includes cities large and small, each with their own significance in the American culture.

In the same basic style and approach of Robert Frank, Moore plans to photograph the intricate and vast components that make America American. He has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for various costs, from travel expenses to the costs behind producing the book that will visually summarize his journey.

Here’s a video introduction to his project and campaign:

The rewards for the pledges are a bit confusing, so if you want full details about what pledge price will get you what, refer to the infographics provided by Moore over on the his Kickstarter campaign. If you don’t plan on pledging anything, but would like to keep up with his travels, you can do so by heading over to the Retracing America website.

  • Lori Barbely

    What an awesome idea!

  • Shelaine Roustio

    Trenton is a good friend of mine and a great photographer. Thank you for this article!

  • Shelaine Roustio

    Also I think the name Essick in the 2nd paragraph is a mistake. Overall great article and very grateful to see this project getting publicity!

  • charlesrlee

    before I looked at the check of $8543 , I accept …that…my neighbour
    woz like they say truley earning money parttime on their apple labtop. . there
    sisters neighbour has done this 4 only 19 months and by now cleared the debts on their house and bourt a gorgeous
    Ford . visit this site C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

  • flightofbooks

    Poor Robert Frank. They couldn’t even wait for him to be dead before they started looting his grave.

  • trentonmoore10

    Hi @flightofbooks:disqus! Before we started anything on the project, the first thing I did was get Robert Frank’s blessing. There’s been quite an extensive bit of research and effort put into making sure that we honor the history rather than bastardize it. While he wasn’t interested in being involved, Frank still wished us the best of luck on the endeavor.

  • flightofbooks

    So? Frank is a gracious guy. He’s not going to scold a young photographer who’s inspired by his work. That makes him a good person. It doesn’t make the project any good.

    I think the idea for this project, as outlined on your website, fundamentally misunderstands Frank’s vision. It reads like a high school book report by an earnest student who repeats things they read elsewhere without really knowing what they mean.There’s a disconnection from photographic discourse in all of this that’s troubling. Just the idea of retracing someone else’s journey is fraught, though if it could be properly problemitized then maybe it could be revelatory. But as it stands, it just seems derivative.

    But hey, people seem willing to hand you money in exchange for some t-shirts or whatever, so good going. Of course, if you understood the work you’re taking your inspiration from a little better, you might see that there’s an irony in that.

  • Tobias W.

    I think the idea of the project is as valid as Frank’s initial idea to do his road trip at the time. Frank chose his route mainly randomly but still tried to include as much location so he covered “typical America”. Retracing the same locations ensures that any work rendered from such a project will be at least comparable to a degree by location (not by style, quality, social relevance etc. necessarily). What’s wrong with that?!
    I really don’t know what your problem is. Jealousy maybe?

  • flightofbooks

    What’s here to be jealousy of? Sounds like you’re projecting.

    That silliness aside, you rather succinctly describe the problem with: “Retracing the same locations ensures that any work rendered from such a project will be at least comparable to a degree by location (not by style, quality, social relevance etc. necessarily)”

    So then what’s the point? Unless it’s a purely deadpan documentary “then vs. now” kind of thing, I’m not sure what the value of that is. But if you read the project statement, it’s specifically not that.

    As you said, Frank chose his route randomly, so even that connection to his work is obliterated by this retracing business.Striking out on a new journey across the country with only a passing connection to Frank’s route might have been interesting, though that’s been done a few times by a few different photographers, to varying degrees of success.

    Basically, the whole thing feels like a gimmick to sell some t-shirts. It transforms Frank’s transgressive narrative into safe for work Americana. It’s rather vulgar, and the worst part is that Mr. Moore seems to be very sincere in his artistic intent. As I already said, it just doesn’t seem like he gets the work he’s taking his inspiration from. It’s a problem.