As a coronavirus-stricken United States struggled to shelter in place, celebrity photographer Brian Bowen Smith saddled up a vintage Ford pickup truck and grabbed his Leica M10 Monochrom to document Americans from the safe social distance of his front seat. With his 1958 Ford F100’s window as a frame adding another dimensional layer, Smith snapped a black-and-white photo series of famous and gritty people and places along his 11,000-mile, cross-country journey. Reese Witherspoon, Common and the blended family of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis made the cut, but so did a farm family in Wisconsin, a jazz singer in New Orleans and healthcare workers in Austin. The six-week “Drivebys” project, featured on “CBS This Morning” on July 16, visually conveys the diversity of Americans from sea to shining sea. Together, the photographs are a brief anecdote for our wanderlust – and a reminder of the frustration, isolation and resilience that unites us.
Patrick Farrell, the curator of The Sunday Still, is the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winner for Breaking News Photography for The Miami Herald, where he worked from 1987 to 2019. He is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Media Management at the University of Miami School of Communication.