“When I show people my book, almost the first thing out of their mouths is, ‘Oh, I remember when…’ Everybody has their own narrative of the gas station.”

In 1978, David Freund stepped out of a motel in Michigan and witnessed a quotidian pairing that, at the time, seemed to represent the United States at the end of the 20th century. This experience (and the resulting photograph) launched a project spanning four years and forty states.

The subsequent series, “Gas Stop,” documents gas stations across the United States as well as the people who use these unique features in the landscape as places to rest, refuel, or converse. In this video interview, Freund examines the photograph that launched the project and describes some of the unique visual tableaux he witnessed as he traveled across the United States. Moving from Illinois to New Jersey to Florida and beyond, this series offers up a focused slice of Americana at the end of the 20th century.


Michigan, 1979 © David Freund

“Gas Stop” was published by Steidl in 2016.

If you liked this video interview, we’d also recommend these previous conversations: The Mediterranean and the Continuity of Man, an interview with Nick Hannes that looks at the changing landscape in countries around the Mediterranean; Transforming SoMa, a series by Janet Delaney that delves into the changing urban landscape of San Francisco; and Roger Ballen in the House of the Ballenesque, a video interview that follows Ballen around one of his recent exhibitions.