As a kid, many of the sleepovers I attended at my friends home had nothing to do with sleep of any kind. If I remember correctly, and I think I do. The goal was to stay up all night in order to get a head start of the next day’s badly mapped out journey into areas and neighborhoods that often resided outside of the borders or imaginary lines our parents often forbid us from wandering past.
Years later I still have a love and admiration for those pre-dawn hours and minutes where much of the world still sleeps. The streets and adjacent pavement have yet to feel the impact of rush hour cars and hustling feet. Aside from the fact that I have to actually go to bed earlier and be aided by the sound of my alarm. Not much has changed. Upon learning that Thanksgiving morning would allow the sun to rise and proudly show itself. I once again set my alarm early enough to join in and watch as the sun peaked over the horizon.
As early as it might have been and as much as I may have waited to enjoy watching the night become day. I was not the first one on the beach. Waiting for me were two separate groups of fishermen, a loving couple, a surfer and someone who found the perfect time and place to reflect and/or mediate. While returning to my everyday responsibilities on the West Coast may not present the same opportunities to watch the sun rise. I’m sure I’ll find similar joys within time.
It’s often I find a friend who not only shares my passion for documenting the off-limits. Even more of a rarity when one asks if they can come along. When that friend just happens to have worked with me in a studio environment. The urge to capture that beauty among the rubble is surely alluring, but then again. When will I have time to spend wandering with this friend. Why would I steal time from this perfect moment, only to turn it into something it was never intended to be? Realizing just that so quickly not only allowed me to enjoy her company. It served as a lesson in that I in order to become a better communicator. I need to become a better listener. I’m not there yet. Far from it, but knowing where I want to be heading just might get me there faster. The images I posted below will hopefully express my intention to include her while allowing her a sense of ambiguity.
Just below are a couple of images featuring elevator shafts I photographed this past Sunday in Jersey City and Passaic. As you can probably tell. Both images were shot from below.
I was talking to a friend about a recent excursion that really made the hairs on my arm stand on end. A little over a month ago, I came across a spot that was as scary as it was intriguing. That day, I spent a matter of minutes exploring the area just adjacent to the old, abandoned automotive parts/repair shop. At the time, I peaked through, before briefly entering the side door. When returning a few weeks later, I found an obscured front door and entered with as much caution as I had curiosity. Almost immediately, I could feel the hair on my arms stand on end as I had entered a dragon’s lair of graffitied walls, random garbage and the remnants of a recent visitor, or worse, occupant.
As I stepped cautiously through the debris and squalor. I couldn’t help but feel the tortured spirits of those who may have preceded my visit. As I moved from room to room through hand carved holes in the walls. I couldn’t help but feel that I might have bitten off more than I could chew. The random needles, paint cans and emptied glue containers served as evidence of recent hardcore drug use. “You’re too old to be doing this. You should be enjoying a plate of eggs and hash browns with you wife right now”
As creepy as my visit might have been. I had no inkling as to how weird things were about to get. While carefully opening one of the container doors. I unveiled what seemed to be a living space, complete with mattress. Though not the unveiling of a colony of brain thirsty zombies or bat wielding crack heads I spooked myself into imagining. It quickly served as the hair-raising moment that told me “Times up. Get your ass back in the car” Thankfully, I was in complete and total agreement with that inner voice. Until the next time.
We live in an ever-changing world where we are constantly in perpetual movement. Very few, if anything holds permanence. While not a bad thing per say. It’s one of the founding principles that influenced my becoming a photographer who felt it important to document my surroundings.The need to explore and document things that may soon be gone is one of the key factors in what originally drew me to photography.
Knowing full well that changes would soon come to one of my current favorite local photo destinations. I took a ride with the wife to see what had developed since my last visit. As we drove closer. The unwelcoming sound of barking dogs echoed in the distance. The immediate question “Could that barking be coming from indie the construction site?” and if so, “Where those dogs chained up or were they loose?” Knowing the answer would soon reveal itself. I proceeded with extreme caution.
Just as predicted. The incessant barking was coming from two Pit Bulls inside and thankfully, not roaming around awaiting their next meal. While it always pains me to see such beautiful animals being chained or caged. I was greatful to feel a bit safer while I quickly got what I came for. Noting the projects progress, the precence of trucks and of course the guard dogs. I relized that this was in all likelyhood, my last visit here. And while we were happy to see that the dogd had plenty of food and water. We made it a point to report the siting to both the lacal Humane Society and Police.
It’s not every day I find such gold within spitting distance from my home base, but when I do, it’s just as much of a thrill, if not more than having to put it in the time and mileage often required. And while I’m thrilled to share some of the bounty from today’s excursion. I’m going to remain tight-lipped and secretive about its location. Hopefully there’s someone out there that enjoys this type of thing as much as I do.
After a big plate of French Toast and six or so cups of coffee. I wanted nothing more than to go home and sit out the rest of the day. However, my wife’s fourth serving of “Are you sure that’s what you want to do?” I was assured that would not be the case. As per usual, I had to come up with a plan that would satisfy us both. I cried out, “Let’s get some ice cream in Newark!” and all of life’s questions were suddenly answered.
Now, being a married man for many years. I have learned that every question includes a boatload of follow-up questions. And as a husband. Every answer should be swift, yet well thought out. Answer a question incorrectly and you could wind up at a mall holding your wife’s purse while she tries on ten outfits. None of which she will actually buy. Knowing “Do you want to go to the mall?” or just as apocalyptic “Hey, do we need to pick up anything at Costco?” Answer correctly and you might find yourself thumbing through records at your favorite vinyl haunt. Or as in this particular days case, exploring uncharted territory while finding visually stimulating images to capture. For me personally, visually stimulating means factories, construction sites, industrial complexes and train yards.
A love and a practise I’ve loved since this curious 7-year-old first experienced while wandering through local construction sites, cemeteries and junk yards spread out through my Queens neighborhood. Til’ this day that sense of danger coupled with the voice in the back of my head that says “You know you’re not supposed to be here.” makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up and my blood rush.While these excursions have nothing to do with any lack of respect for safety, personal property or authority. It definitely reinforces that old adage “No one owes you anything. If you want something. You have to take it.” That rush I get. The voice in the back of my head and the little hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. That’s my body telling me that my soul is still intact. That getting older doesn’t mean you’re getting old. At least not yet.