Texas Highways photographer shares 30 years of breathtaking pictures in a brand new guide

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lifestyle // // Travel to Texas

Photo by Carol ChristianCarol Christian,

September 25, 2014 Updated: September 25, 2014, 4:06 pm

1of33A cowboy standing out against a neon Texas flag.Krause, Johansen / (Courtesy: J. Griffis Smith, Texas Department of Transportation)

J. Griffis Smith: 2of33J. Griffis Smith: “When I got to the popcorn popper it looked very sterile. I saw the decorative cans and the popcorn pile and used the cans to build a wall behind the owner. I had two of his employees and had them Drop popcorn around him for the illusion of popping. “J. Griffis Smith / (Courtesy: J. Griffis Smith, Texas Department of Transportation)3of33

Roadside grill in Study Butte / Easter Egg Valley.4thof33Roadside grill in Study Butte / Easter Egg Valley.J. Griffis Smith / (Courtesy: J. Griffis Smith, Texas Department of Transportation)

This photo is the cover of On the Road with Texas Highways: A Tribute to True Texas.5of33This photo is the cover of On the Road with Texas Highways: A Tribute to True Texas.(Courtesy of: J. Griffis Smith, Texas Department of Transportation)6thof33

Dr.  Pepper poured from a saucepan.7thof33Dr. Pepper poured from a saucepan.Photographer: J Griffis Smith / (Courtesy: J. Griffis Smith, Texas Department of Transportation)

A church scene.8thof33A church scene.Photographer: J Griffis Smith / (Courtesy: J. Griffis Smith, Texas Department of Transportation)9of33

These presidential heads can be seen on I-45 and in the David Addicks art production yard in Houston.10of33These presidential heads can be seen on I-45 and in the David Addicks art production yard in Houston.J. Griffis Smith

Old glory at a Texas parade.11of33Old glory at a Texas parade.(Courtesy of: J. Griffis Smith, Texas Department of Transportation)12thof33

In Groom, you can see a 190 foot cross and a leaning water tower that says Britten USA on it.13thof33In Groom, you can see a 190 foot cross and a leaning water tower that says Britten USA on it.J. Griffis Smith / (Courtesy: J. Griffis Smith, Texas Department of Transportation)

Different views of the raft ride through Santa Elena Canyon.14thof33Different views of the raft ride through Santa Elena Canyon.J. Griffis Smith / (Courtesy: J. Griffis Smith, Texas Department of Transportation)fifteenof33

Various views of the Fayette County Courthouse in La Grange, including the atrium and bust of La Fayette, after which the county is named.16of33Various views of the Fayette County Courthouse in La Grange, including the atrium and bust of La Fayette, after which the county is named.J. Griffis Smith / (Courtesy: J. Griffis Smith, Texas Department of Transportation)

Memorial draped with Texas flag in preparation for San Jacinto Day Celebration.17thof33Memorial draped with Texas flag in preparation for San Jacinto Day Celebration.J. Griffis Smith / (Courtesy: J. Griffis Smith, Texas Department of Transportation)18thof33

Various views of the Menil Museum in Houston.  For more information, contact Vance Muse 713-525-9404.19thof33Various views of the Menil Museum in Houston. For more information, contact Vance Muse 713-525-9404.J. Griffis Smith

Violation of the rules Photographers rarely take photos in the midday sun, but wait for the keys to the bread baker's room in the Tigua reserve in El Paso.  I turned around and saw Hermina Silva enveloped in this group of shadows.20thof33Violation of the rules Photographers rarely take photos in the midday sun, but wait for the keys to the bread baker’s room in the Tigua reserve in El Paso. I turned around and saw Hermina Silva enveloped in this group of shadows.J. Griffis Smith21of33

Tom Perini has taken his feed wagon around the world to cook beef and serve his cobbler.  Photographed from his Buffalo Gap restaurant.22ndof33Tom Perini has taken his feed wagon around the world to cook beef and serve his cobbler. Photographed from his Buffalo Gap restaurant.J. Griffis Smith

Various views of the beer can house in Houston.23of33Various views of the beer can house in Houston.J. Griffis Smith24of33

After going to the Christmas event, I asked park staff to recreate for this cover photo and pose for me.  Finding a creative and interesting way to photograph such a sleek and simple building that is so important to Texas history was a challenge.25thof33After going to the Christmas event, I asked park staff to recreate for this cover photo and pose for me. Finding a creative and interesting way to photograph such a sleek and simple building that is so important to Texas history was a challenge.J. Griffis Smith

Different views of a battleship in Texas.26thof33Different views of a battleship in Texas.J. Griffis Smith27of33

A view of East Harris County as seen from the base of the star on the San Jacinto Monument.28of33A view of East Harris County as seen from the base of the star on the San Jacinto Monument.J. Griffin Smith / J. Griffis Smith

Boot scootin in a dance hall in Texas.  J. Griffis Smith has photographed Arkey Blue's Silver Dollar Bar in Bandera several times.  For this shot he was lying with the camera on an ashtray on the floor.29of33

Boot scootin in a dance hall in Texas. J. Griffis Smith has photographed Arkey Blue’s Silver Dollar Bar in Bandera several times. For this shot he was lying with the camera on an ashtray on the floor.

J. Griffis Smith30thof33

Willie Nelson with his Trigger guitar.31of33Willie Nelson with his Trigger guitar.J. Griffis Smith

Clouds over a Texas field.32of33Clouds over a Texas field.(Courtesy of: J. Griffis Smith, Texas Department of Transportation)33of33

If anyone has led thousands of people to get off the couch and see the sights of Texas, it is without a doubt J. Griffis Smith.

Smith, a former Texas Highways Magazine editor and staff photographer, has been photographing across the state for more than 30 years. He retired this summer.

His latest collection of nearly 300 color photos with text, Traveling Texas Highways: A Tribute to the Real Texas, was recently published by Texas A&M University Press.

The coffee table book is available online for $ 29.95 from Texas Highways, a Texas Department of Transportation publication.

About 60 of Smith’s photos are on display at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville through Sunday. An earlier version of the exhibition premiered at the museum two years ago, according to the museum’s website.

In a 2011 article, Smith told Texas Highways, “When I’m composing a picture, I like to imagine the viewer looking directly over my shoulder.” The picture must tell the story of its own accord without a caption. ”

More beautiful pictures from Texas & Texans

Carol Christian covers the breaking news for chron.com. Since joining the Houston Chronicle in 1998, she has covered a variety of beats including criminal courts and transportation.

A native of Des Moines, Iowa, holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in sociology from Michigan State University.

Carol started out in journalism teaching English during Martial Law in Poland.