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.
Every now and then we need to be taken out of our comfort zone,.Shook up like good cocktail and have a little in your face with someone about something. When I look back on today’s little war of words. To be honest, with all the off the grid shooting I’ve been doing over the years. I’m surprised it hasn’t happen more often. Especially with some of the chances I’ve taken of late.
It was today’s little exchange however, that both caught me off guard and left me a little rattled. As we were returning from an Easter breakfast at one of our favorite upstate farms. We stopped along the side of the road to get some fresh vegetables to add to the days take. As my wife parked the car and headed towards the farm store. I crossed the road to get a closer glance of an old and (What I thought was abandoned barn.) As I began to cross the road I noticed two women walking towards me looking quite agitated. The younger one asked me what I was doing. I respectfully replied “I apologize If I’m on your property. It’s just that I was intrigued by that barn.” “Oh, that’s just an old broken down barn. I don’t mind if you take some pictures.” The offer seemed a bit back handed and she went on to note that the two dogs that accompanied her and what could have been her mother or the towns crypt keeper. So off I went. Moments later, that same woman was riding towards me on her bicycle armed with enough anger and spite to fire a mouthful of teeth straight into a vital organs. “This is private property! I didn’t say you could get close!” Jeezus, I thought she was going to pull out a pistol and shoot me dead. To say the very least, the exchange was so heated. I was expecting everything from a visit from the police to an updated version of leather face emerging from the barn. At the time. I didn’t feel I was in the wrong, but in retrospect. Maybe I just wore out my welcome. Lesson learned. Tread lightly, I suppose. I did manage to get a few shots without ever stepping inside. There was enough useless garbage stored inside the fuel a full season of Hoarders.
If you’re not into garbage strewn streets and unkempt property. My usual route home from the train is dull city. S0 0ver time I’ve devised different ways to not only get home, but to explore areas that I’ve yet to really crack. One of those routes lies just across the railroad tracks, about a block or two from the main area called Little India. One one of this winters nicer days I found one that suits me well and doesn’t have me taking the long route to the short cut. As I turned on to “I forget the name” street. My ears were filled with the sounds of children loudly enjoying their recess. Luckily, the almost ear piercing sound had zero effect on my eyes, as I walked right in to a car that looked as if it predated the Castro regime. It’s happened a lot over the years. There was a classic hunk of classic green junk parked in the lot behind Hoboken’s Monroe Center for centuries. So boldly occupying its space. It seemed immovable by current technology. There’s yet another parked within site of the route I take home almost daily. (I need to spend some time getting to know it one day.)
For me personally, the draw is the history, stories and uniqueness that captivates my attention. These monuments to the past surely have some tales to tell. Getting closer to get a good look and to take a few pictures guarantees that years after it’s gone. It will still be remembered.
I’ve always been intrigued with dusty old things. The older the better. If it’s run down, rusted or sitting abandoned in an open field somewhere. It’s character, stories and history draw me in, inviting me to explore and uncover.
On our first trip to Blooming Hill Farm a few weeks ago. We immediately noticed this particular truck in distance. Driven by hunger, a little lack of balance and not being sure how to get close enough to inspect without dredging through the crops. We kept a respectful distance. On our return, my curiosity peaked and a sense of determination got me from point A to B without stomping the yard or losing my ever vanishing sense of balance.
As I grew closer I began to feel the trucks rich history and purpose. It had most likely served decades hauling vegetables from the farm to markets and restaurants throughout the tristate area. As I opened the cabins squeaky cabin door to capture the rusted steering wheel and eroded seats I imagined the many drivers who navigated that truck down dark and dusty roads on the way to the highway and it’s intended destination. And while my wife will often lurk close by wondering just what it is that draws me to things of this nature. She understands and perhaps shares that wanderlust.
For as long as I can remember and most likely before them. I’ve always loved going to Flea Markets and Garage Sales. The sites and smells of the common man. The dust, dirt, heat and above all the give and “Would you take” that happens before most, if not all purchases. Getting to dig through a strangers history while often finding your own makes you realize how, with all of our differences. In the end, we are much alike. The only difference being, I haven’t saved every item I’ve ever owned.
As I get older I begin to see a wider and wider gap between the sellers personal idea of an items worth and the actual worth of the item. In my last two trips to Elephant Trunk’s massive flea market in Connecticut. I have come away with nothing but a sunburn and an empty gas tank. While I found the item pictured to be quite unique worth further investigation. The item I was interested in buying was so ridiculously overpriced, it made me think why did she even bother unloading her van. The rest of the vendors are packing up at the end of a long hot day and she’s asking $100 dollars for old. rusty and very empty oil can. One’s she had no luck selling and would be returning to her storage space. Ridiculous! I bought an antique Maxwell’s coffee can a few years back for $3 bucks in virtually the same spot. I’ve found more unique items sitting out on the curb elsewhere.
In the near and distant future. I see myself sticking closer to home and hitting up local fleas, garage and estate sales. As for these bloated hoarder summits. I’ll pass.