Richard Chen

America Photo Series pt. I

I started the journey out with Nick in May 2021, a good friend from college. He and I haven’t seen each other for a year and a half before we met up again in Stamford, Connecticut. Our plan was to drive down south to New Orleans in his 2003 Honda Accord and come back up to New York in the span of two weeks.

I’ve never traveled from day to day where a hotel was booked on the day you’re staying the night at a certain city. The uncertainty strains you at the beginning, but it becomes a sense of freedom once you embrace it. You can drive anywhere, stay wherever, and do whatever your heart desires: freedom.

Diner in Tennessee

Motorcyclist in Charlotte, NC

Abandoned Lodge in Alabama

find my friend Carleigh

Harlem, NY

Virginian Antique Store

Abandoned Bus Stop in Virginia

Isaiah in Atlanta

Performers on the backstreets in Nashville

Atlanta Pickup Game

Singers in Atlanta

Willie, a retired police officer


Honkey Town

Two men taking the Staten Island Ferry to Manhattan

Crowd rushing in New York Subway

Queens, NY

There’s something about being stuck in car for extended periods of time that brings people together. Our first stop was West Virginia, a small camping spot in the Appalachian mountains. Immediately John Denver started playing from two separate campsites at different intervals in our campsite. There’s something simple about the camping life that I’ve come to enjoy in little increments. Cooking steak on top of a campfire gives the meat a nice earthy taste that cooking on a stovetop just doesn’t have. It’s crazy that this is only seven hours away from New York.

We then worked our way down to Tennessee, with Nashville being our stop. The music was non-stop, and we decided to take a break from the commotion of Broadway and go a little off the street. We ran into these musicians that were free-styling country music. One would sing, and the other would add their line after. I knew it was improvised because they told me it was improvised. They kindly shook my hand and talked about their journey down to Nashville to play music. They’re vagabonds, and not here for long, but they sure did play some unique country music on the backlots of downtown Nashville.

Alabama was something we had to brace for. We’ve been warned by people from Tennessee at a family diner that people down there is no joke. It’s just like how people in New York warned us about people in West Virginia, and West Virginians warned us about Tennessee. It really is about just about dropping all your notions about a place and just experiencing it for what it is. I’ve made this mistake many times in my life where I would listen to other people’s assumptions and take it as fact. I’ve been proven wrong time and time again when it comes to the people of a foreign place, and Alabama was no different.

West Virginia

Cookie Cutter houses Nashville

watch out

Atlanta Highway

wild flowers in West Virginia