Instant Moab…by Terry Knouff

I n s t a n t    M o a b….

T e r r y   k n o u f f

Then And Now…

I know, “Then And Now” , It’s not an original idea of mine. But I love how photography can enhance our “temporal perspective” And Moab has seen a lot of changes over the years. So I decided to turn the whole idea on it’s head and photograph some places and things I had originally shot more than 20 years ago, places and things that HADN’T changed all that much (and some that had). Of course the “then and now” thing has been done from the beginning of photography, and maybe even amongst painters before that. From the moment I saw his work I enjoyed how the photographer Mark Klett ( ) used Polaroid instant photography back in the late 70’s and early 80’s to rephotograph some of the iconic western scenes of  19th Century USGS expedition photographers like William Henry Jackson. Kletts photos provided photo evidence of not only the changes that came to the west in the 20th century , but also the seeming immutability of some western places. The original shots I took back in the mid 80’s, and mostly with Polaroid film ( SX70 and Polaroid 665 Positive/Negative ) The recent stuff was shot with a Pentax Digital SLR, the “instant photography” of a new generation. I have to say I still prefer the classic instant films of old.


Apache Sign: One of the last of the great old motel signs left on Main Street, Moab. Yeah, this is the place famous for lodging “The Duke”, John Wayne. The original photo is a Polaroid circa 1988.

The Atomic Motel sign: This wonderful sign has seen better days, but at least it’s up in Moab where people can see it (I’ll let the dear readers find it for themselves) The original photo is a manipulated Polaroid SX70.



Bear Petroglyph: I actually thought this petroglyph would have sustained more damage after more than 20 years, especially considering it’s accessibility. Original photo from a Polaroid 665 Positive/Negative.

Free rides: This tourist wagon was old when I first photographed it more than 20 years, using Polaroid 4×5 film and a Graflex field camera. I was really surprised when I found out it still existed, and almost in the same spot it sat in 1989.  

Giant Cottonwood: It was a sad day when the giant cottonwood tree at first south in Moab was cut down. There was even a tree hugger (literally) protest to try and stop the chain-saws, but considering the rot found at the core of the tree, it’s fall was inevitable. There’s bits and pieces of the Cottonwood to be found all around Moab. The before picture is a manipulated SX70. The now shot features a young tree that occupies almost the same spot as the former Giant.

Sprouse Store: I miss the Sprouse-Reitz store on Main Street in Moab. It’s demise was just one of the early-warning signs of the “end”. And how appropriate that it was replaced with a Santa-Fe”ized” ( or should that be Santa-Tized ) facade. My brother Randy and I always enjoyed such stores for their NOS ( New Old Stock )

To see more of Terry’s photographs, check out his online gallery:

Terry Knouff has been loving the Canyonlands country since 1979, and living in it since 1987. But his first love ( not counting Claudia Fancier in the 4th grade) is photography. Especially instant photogra­phy, the kind the Polaroid Corporation once provided to the world. Those days are past, Polaroid went belly up, and the Canyonlands have , by some estima­tions, been loved to death. But life goes on, and Terry continues to find enjoyment in the Canyon Country near his home in Moab, Utah, and in the art of Pho­tography. He has since found some satisfaction in digital photography, but of late he’s yearned for the “good-old-days” of his instant photography youth. He is currently exploring instant films offered by other companies and former employees of Polaroid, un­der the banner of the “Impossible Film Project”. And building his perfect instant photography beast, The Frankenroid. You can find his photography online at


To view this article as a PDF, click here: aug11-10-11

2 comments for “Instant Moab…by Terry Knouff

  1. Marian Ottinger
    August 3, 2011 at 6:18 am

    hey terry, remember me? Your pictures are so nostalgic. Thanks for the “good old days” phootography. Marian

  2. Scott Thompson
    August 6, 2011 at 9:12 am

    I stayed in the Atomic Motel for a couple of days in December, 1979, while my car was being repaired. It had been towed into town after breaking down on the San Rafael Swell. Temperature at the time: ten degrees below zero. Luckily I had been able to hitch a ride into Green River before acquiring frostbite.

    A fine little motel.

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