Photographer Nolan Conway does not work for McDonald’s, however, he has been documenting the American fast-food icon since December 2012 as if he were part of a new marketing campaign. Traveling the U.S., he has been compiling a portrait series depicting the different customers that patronize the world famous fast-food chain. Cleverly called Happy Meals, McDonalds is shown in Conway’s photos to be the ‘comfort food chain” of choice.
The series also shows what is a rapidly changing face of the American. Families and individuals of every racial extraction are seen in the images, even though the pictures were mostly taken in rural parts of the country. Conway said he found the customers of rural America to be more varied, accommodating and interesting. A total of 150 branches were visited by Conway in 22 states.
Conversely, McDonalds has also become that ubiquitous American brand that has penetrated practically every country around the globe, exporting all-American junk food everywhere. It is perhaps the most underappreciated ambassador of American home-style goodness, embodied in their celebrated burgers. There are more than 33,000 McDonald restaurants in 118 countries around the world. Ronald McDonald might as well take his place beside Uncle Sam, and share in the glory of personifying America.
The concept of McDonald’s restaurant began in San Bernardino, California by Dick and Mac McDonald in 1940. However the corporate vision came from business partner Ray Kroc from Oak Park, Illinois, who later acquired control of the company and went on to develop and establish McDonald’s Corporation.
Happy Meals has captured some attention, having been recently featured in the New York Times Magazine, as well as in Wired. Developing the series into a photo book is also being undertaken. Brooklyn based Conway Studied both photography and writing at Pratt Institute in New York City. His work has come out in Billboard Magazine, Time Out New York, The Boston Globe, Own Magazine and Bullett Magazine.
Take a look at Conway’s work here.