Hayley Eichenbaum’s Instagram is a sun-drenched examination of the colorful architecture in the American West. She captures these scenes during epic trips, snapping thousands of photos along the way and sharing the best of them with her 15,000 followers.

You wouldn’t know it, but Eichenbaum has no formal training in photography, and uses the automatic mode on her Nikon D7 100 and iPhone. “I quit pretty much every photography class I’ve ever taken,” she says with a laugh. Still, she has an amazing eye for form and color, and a background in installation and performance art.

Eichenbaum started experimenting with Instagram in 2013 at the encouragement of a few friends, but it didn’t really click until the following year, when she spent a month exploring Route 66. She found everything about the West fascinating, and snapped some 15,000 photos. She hasn’t stopped since.

Eichenbaum moved to Los Angeles five months ago. She shoots almost daily, and has made more than two dozen road trips to 13 states. While out and about in her Jeep, she looks for anything colorful and geometric and “this kind of wilting and romantic Americana”—retro cars, distinctive architecture, and desolate buildings. Although she captures grand landscapes and bright scenes, the photos have a flat, illustrative quality. They’re like saturated postcard from a bygone age.

The self-proclaimed “snap-happy” photographer has taken some 40,000 photos during the last two years and jokes that “I’ve got years of material!” she jokes. She claims the magic happens in post-production, where she relies heavily on cropping and color to make her images look so clean and graphic. Eichenbaum calls herself a “colorist at heart” and happily pumps up colors and removes distractions like telephone lines in pursuit of her vision. “I want to walk that line between authentic and surreal—because many times that was my experience when seeing these locations in person,” she says.

Despite her lack of training, Eichenbaum finds herself in the unexpected role of “photographer.” Instagram featured her account early on, which led to regular gigs doing commercial work like album covers and product photography. And she’s preparing for her first gallery show, which is slated for DATE}} in New York. Through it all, Eichenbaum continues exploring LA. “That’s been the biggest challenge for me, how sprawling this city is,” she says. “How do you conquer something and how do you use it to your advantage.”

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Sun-Drenched Photos Will Make You Long for the Great American West