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
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.
Over the last several weekends my wife and I have turned our attention from NYC’s Chinatown and it’s yummy dim sum and directed it south towards Newark, NJ’s tasty Portuguese bakeries. Though I certainly brought my appetite the first time around. My camera was nowhere to be found. When our first trip produced a series of ooooh’s and ahhh’s. I couldn’t wait to come back with my camera to document the historic beauty, history and texture Newark had to offer. So after a tasty breakfast of grilled cheese and sonhas at Suissa’s. We drove off to do some exploring while on our way to Clifton.
As we headed on to Passaic Ave. I began to recognize the factories and warehouses. “I was here a few years back.” I exclaimed. Just then, I noticed a Newark patrol care and quickly recalled being held and questioned by a task force I had no idea ever existed. Quickly, I shoved the camera back in the bag until I was sure we were not being tailed and were completely out of the range of any city or state authorities. Within minutes we found a local strip mall, parked and took to foot. I can’t pinpoint just what attracts me to what most see as ugly and broken down. Sometimes it makes me think of the excitement those early trips to the junkyards with my Dad or the trashy treats my Mom would find at local flea market. Whatever the roots may be. I’m grateful that something so simple can make me feel like a kid in a candy store. Isn’t that what life’s all about anyway?
My passion for finding and photographing industrial articles is pretty insane. Many is the time I’ve gone to factories and industrial parks to find those pieces that peak my interest and curiosity. One of my dreams in life is to buy an industrial loft somewhere in Brooklyn. Not one of those completely converted ones they advertise with such glee. Something raw and bare that has character. A raw canvas craving for a creative and twisted makeover. A few years back I presented a portfolio entitled “Left Behind.” to SOHO Photo Gallery. They fully understood the message I was trying to convey and granted me admission to the COOP. Since then I’ve worked hard to find pieces to update and refresh that port. Often being chased out of construction sites, being questioned/detained by Police or both. But for me, the reward outweighs the hassle. I didn’t get into any such shenanigans capturing the ones below. But I enjoyed taking them just the same.
This morning a friend of mine posted “You’re slacking on your blog.” on my Facebook wall. She was absolutely right. It hasn’t been due to any stoppage on my taking pictures or having adventures, It’s just that I’ve been at a loss for words lately. Even in conversation I feel that my thoughts aren’t flowing like they should. I’m not the least bit concerned though. We all go through down cycles. Sometimes it’s art. Other times it’s relationships. Luckily for me those cycles never last very long. Too much to do and see. Too many adventures to be had and stories to be told. The blog is not dead. Long live the blog.