I’ve been tuning in to the History channel’s TV show ‘American Pickers’ a lot these days. And while many of the characters and destinations featured on the show could easily find their way to an episode of ‘Hoarders’. Digging through a families history as opposed to unearthing years of unattended cat feces somehow appeals to me.
As a kid growing up in the shadows of Shea stadium, the junk yards guarded by attack dogs and pop up automotive repair and parts shacks just a few feet beyond, I became enamored with old trucks, their histories and the miles they accumulated while making their rounds. You see, everyone and everything has a history as well as a unique story to tell. For myself, I’ve always felt a responsibility to document and whenever possible preserve it. Knowing full well, that nothing is permanent.
I was only seven years old when I wandered onto my first construction site in Jackson Heights, Queens and just weeks after that I watched a close friend fall to his death at the same site. Though tragic in every way, it never deterred me from hopping a fence or overlooking any signs that bore the words “NO TRESPASSING!” As an adult, I discovered a passion for photography and though that passion consumed me. My love and appreciation for things like construction sites, junk yards, factories and the numerous locations that are often deemed “Off Limits.” Having a camera and a desire to document my surroundings led me to many destinations. A few years ago, I attended a Q&A in downtown NYC where the author of a book whose title escapes me would speak about his experiences shooting his factory themed images for his book. Imagine how disappointed I was when he talked about getting permission and a time frame to capture the images for his project. “What a jip!” I thought. This guy got an all access pass and chose to shoot from the cushy balcony. Where was the rush of adrenaline coming from? Where was the risk? Undaunted, I returned to my passion and that rush that comes from not knowing what will happen next. That feeling you get when the hairs on your neck stand on end and tingle. While I’m too old and too sick to climb fences, outrun police or feel the breath of an angry guard dog on the chase,. I’m still holding out that there’s a gallery exhibit or even a book in the future. And while I’ve begun to gather and post pictures on my social media page, I know I still have a long way to go. Here’s a link to some of the images I’ve come across. Left Behind
While it’s seldom discussed outside the photographers circle. I am pretty sure there is something equivalent to a photographers boner. Though not thoroughly researched. I can assure you that there are a number of subjects that bring tingles to my lower parts. One of them is industrial photography and the kind that just might include a little trespassing. As someone who, at the age of seven considered construction sites part of his urban playground. I have a long history of being both physically and creatively drawn to industrial types of art, architecture and style.
Deciding to turn down a different street, take a different route and cross that bridge yesterday in Tacoma paid endless dividends. While we had already been having a stellar day of beautiful weather, good food, record shopping and coffee. The tail end of our visit, was by far the most rewarding. My eyes lit up as I spotted a collection of out of commission train cars just outside one of the industrial parks businesses. loudly urged “Stop.” “Stop.” “Stop the car.” As I jumped out of my seat toretrieve my camera from the trunk. Though I can’t wait to go back and further explore that particular area. I feel lucky to have a few worthwhile images to go home with.
My wife and I recently deiced to take one weekend day (usually Sunday) to stay somewhat local and dedicate part of the day to study,. (Or in my case, write.) Over time it’s come to be a ritual I enjoy and even look forward to. Going out for breakfast before seeking out a library, book store or cafe/coffee house to settle in and get some extra work done. Being that I’ve always been and still am inspired by photography. I often find myself thinking as one and wanting to capture a moment. Since moving to Seattle I’ve taken my share of sunsets but often miss the industrial surroundings of the Jersey City condo we so cherished. Finding ourselves at a SODO coffee shop late this afternoon. I was able to patiently wait in my comfortable seat as the sun began to set over the areas industrial backdrop. As the Fall quickly becomes Winter and the days get shorter. My chances to watch the sun disappear will multiply. Still, watching sun set and that glowing orange color overpowering a once blue sky incites child like awe.
While there’s never been a day that I haven’t regretted leaving my camera at home. The practice of bringing one with me everywhere I go has undoubtedly kept me from living in the moment and learning to appreciate something without documenting it for whatever reasons I deem fit. Knowing full well the perils of cluttering your hard drive, computer or phone device with countless unwanted images. Old habits die hard and trying to capture images that inspire you in on way or another is nothing to fault someone over. Still, capturing images with my phone allows me to instantly edit and feel less compelled to keep what I don’t want. Being that I still find inspiration in things others often overlook or discard. I’m thankful for having more than one option to capture and share the things I love.
I had just arrived at my boxing class when my trainer asked me about my goat shirt and where I picked it up. While I was readily eager to share my love, appreciation and understanding of goat’s contributions to society. I could not recall the name of the market where I picked it up. “Oh, you know that art market they have in the airplane hanger.” was all I come up with at the time. The truth is, that since moving to Seattle in June of 2017. I’ve left most of, it not all of the weekend driving to my wife. Though much of my driving during the week has me within the Columbia City, Downtown and West Seattle areas. The weekends usually take us far beyond the areas mentioned. And while I retain minute details of the places we’ve visited. I can rarely remember the names of the towns, cities and businesses. Having visited the same market just a week ago. I still never bothered to remember the town, military base or the name of the market. Who knows, maybe it’s a subliminally intentional thing. If life has taught me anything. It’s that, the less you know…
I took this image as we entered the market. Let me know if you recognize the place.
Having seen my share of iPhone and Samsung commercial spots talking up the wonderful images you can create with their new technology and reading various articles predicting the beginning of the end of SLR’s as we know them. I’m somewhat surprised by how well I was responding and reacting. After hearing “Do you think you can set up a studio in this room? Or “Do you think all your photo gear will fit in this closet?” during our years trying to buy a condo. That and the fact that I’m holding on to a dozen or so film cameras. I found myself feeling more relieved than stressed.
And why not? How often have we wished for a magic wand to clear away all the clutter and extra stuff that takes up our closets, our shelves, floors, the space under our beds. Forcing us to foolishly rent storage space and make hard decisions about what stays or goes. Though I haven’t gotten into the disease / disorder that, as it progresses, wrecks havoc on my balance and ability to walk. The practice of carrying around a camera back full of gear is becoming a major issue. What if all of that could fit in the back of my pocket? Times change and the media we use to create art changes with it. I clearly remember the resistance I had when switch from film SLR’s to Digital. And though I put up a good fight. I was and still am feeling the rewards. More and more these days I’m reserving my camera, the myriad of lenses and my add on flash for more demanding moments. While keeping my iPhone handy for when my wife texts me or I see something like what I’ve posted above to capture for future consideration.
During my time in Columbia City, I’ve become rather familiar with the roads, streets and avenues that connect me to the places I like to go and need to be. As Georgetown and West Settle have become regular destinations. I’ve become quite used to traveling from Alaska Way on to South Colombia Way. When heading to Georgetown, like I’ve done the last two days. I remind myself to make a left at S Angeline before heading down the hill and to the left on cross street. Each time I do. I can’t help but think of stopping for a bit to admire the view before taking a few photos of the power lines that seem to cut through the backyards of the homes there.
Being in somewhat of a rush and the fact that it has rained every day in Seattle for over a hundred years, (Ask anyone.) the chance to stop and smell the green, green grass hasn’t exactly presented itself. Last night while driving down the same street. I decided to put it on my bucket list and set aside a less than rainy day to get a few shots.
So today, when the rainy morning forecast turned to sun. We jumped in the car and headed on that same route to Georgetown where we basked in the sun and enjoyed bottomless cups of Joe at All City Coffee. All in all, a pretty good day. One in which we were able to take advantage of the beautiful weather while staying pretty local.
After a quick stop to gas up at Costco. We drove out towards an industrial area near the Spokane Viaduct that overlooked a sort of tent city. Weary of causing any disturbance or attracting the attention of the ones who called the area home. We pulled in to one of the companies parking lots, gathered my gear and headed back around the corner to check out some of the murals and graffiti displayed next to the tracks. It took a while, but I finally came to the realization that I wasn’t going to be disturbed by any of the nearby entities, cops or overzealous security guards that my curiosity seems to attract. After just a few minutes of shooting, I scurried back to the car where my wife was sitting with the engine. I thanked her for allowing me to indulge in my silliness and off we went in search of pancakes and french toast. The end.