Someone once said that to me in response to myself showing a bit of frustration from reading an article about a location in Kentucky I wanted to explore being renovated. That was a year or so ago, hearing those words bothered me then and still do obviously or else I wouldn’t be writing this. Sure, I’ll be the first to admit it’s a minor annoyance when I don’t get the chance to check out a location that I wanted, but I’m not spiteful or anything to anyone who renovates a property. I would much rather someone fix a place up and generate revenue for an area (raising surrounding property value, county tax revenue, etc.) than me getting to stumble around and snap some photos before returning home to stagger through writing a shitty article about it.
Why do I take photos at all? Simply because I adore the process. I’m not happy with my work a lot of the time, and it’s partially the drive to be better that keeps me going. I think when it comes to any art form the person creating it is always going to be the worst possible critic. Whether it be snapping photos, making music, painting, anything really. When you go through the process of creating something that you plan to present to the masses you tend to notice every flaw possible. It can drive you insane. Perhaps the reason you pay such close attention to detail to even notice the flaws is because you care about what it is you’re making. You are passionate about it. I can barely tell you how a camera works, I (sadly) sure as shit have no clue how to develop film, but I can tell you that the process of capturing an image has always fascinated me since I was a kid carrying around a cheap plastic Vivitar 110mm camera. That constant battle of trying to capture how I view the world around me is still going to this day and I love it.
The fact that you and I can look at the same photo and take different things away from it is something else that has always stuck out to me. I’m not just talking about the narrative streaming from the content, I’m referring to it on an emotional level as well. What it sparks inside of you when you see it. Much like when you hear a particular line from a song and it strikes you like a tsunami, flooding your brain with memories. The person who wrote that song is not going to have the same connection to that line as yourself. It’s that endless possibility that occurs in art that I’ve always admired. Of course I will have completely different thoughts when I look at my own work but that’s just because I was there when a photo was taken. I had the pleasure to see behind the scenes and not just what the lens captured. Personally, my memory along with the ability to pay attention to anything has always been shit and has often been mistaken by others as a lack of caring. Photography has always been a sort of loophole to my shitty memory. Perhaps that’s another reason I fell in love with it at a young age. I can take a single photo of just about anything and remember details from the entire day. To put that in perspective, I can barely tell you what happened a few days ago and that’s not by choice.
Now to stop rambling and touch on the subject line. It’s not just taking a photo I care about. Do I have an emotional connection with every place I find? Of course not. Occasionally it does happen though, maybe emotional isn’t the correct word to use here but there is a connection none the less, a magnetism if you will. I wish when I started to get serious about photography I would have travelled back to southern West Virginia and re-shot photos of the first abandoned spot I went to before some asshole torched it. It’s honestly one of my regrets in life. When I first moved to Huntington and started taking photos on a regular basis, I fell in love with a vacant house near Ritter Park. That house was known as Yellowwood and more info on that can be found a few posts back. Anyway, last year that property went up for sale, not sure what legal victory happened to finally make that a possibility, but it did. It was listed for $149,900 and even in the horrid shape it was in quickly sold. I’m not sure what the final buying price was, but was told by a friend that knows the new owners that it is their retirement project. I simply adore that. The level of joy that filled me upon hearing that someone bought the property and planned to restore it is ridiculous. I have no personal connection to that house other than falling in love with it’s style and taking photos of it. I never knew anyone who lived there nor did I spend my childhood playing in the yard or anything. There was a connection regardless.
Whenever I’m at an abandoned place I like to spend a chunk of time just being still and silent and just observe the surrounding world at that particular spot. The sights, the sounds, the smells. I try to imagine how things once were when it was vibrant and full of life. The experiences others have had in the past right where I stand. I like to think what events occurred there that may have affected someone’s life whether it be good or bad. Part of me could really care less about getting a photo. It’s that experience alone why I go to these places to begin with. I take photos because simply it’s what I love doing and it helps me remember what I felt when I was there. Even if no one but myself ever looked at the pictures I take, I would still be out there exploring places and documenting what I find.