As someone who has become used to and comfortable with routine and set schedule. I have no problem admitting that I do not like surprises. So when my wife kept in me in the dark about an early morning excursion to Georgetown. I can honestly say, I became somewhat unnerved trying to guess what she had in mind. As we arrived at what was supposed to be our final destination. My wife looked as puzzled as I was. Luckily, we waited it out and after a couple of rights, a left and another right, we were able to tail a pick up truck long enough to get us to where we needed to be. Georgetown Steam turned out to be the perfect surprise, as we both share a passion for factories and industrial sites. We spent over an hour exploring the old factory, while sharing some memorable exchanges with some of the retired steam workers who happened to be volunteering that day. Maybe it’s time for me to trust my wife’s instincts and learn to enjoy those little surprises.
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.
Everyone seems to have their own form of meditation. Something to help find the calm and focus needed to cleanse their mind of the clutter, stress and anxiety they deal with on a day to day basis. Personally, I have explored many channels in recent years. Many of which work very well .
One of mantras I’ve adopted over the last year or so is my nightly walk. One of the things that helped us fall in love with our current home is it’s industrial surroundings. With all the bridges, train yards and factories nearby. One could not ask for more character and personality. Watching the sun set over such a beautiful landscape brings me a sense of peace I can’t quite describe and hope to never take for granted. If I was able to dole out advice to anyone. I would recommend that whenever possible. Find those private moments where you can enjoy being alone. Breathe deep and be in the moment for as long as you can.
For as long as I can remember. My wife has been my biggest supporter and critique when it comes to photography. She understands the way my brain works and she always pushes me to do more with my passion. Having her by my side during many of my photography trips always gives me a sense of security while providing a safety net and getaway driver when I need it most. She’s always been my second set of eyes while giving the ones in the back of my head somewhat of a heightened awareness. She’s more than happy to stop the car and pull over to indulge my curiosity and often offers to hang out for hours while I do my thing. So when we found ourselves traveling down a somewhat sketchy road in upstate New York. She didn’t seem the least bit worried when I jumped out of the car to indulge myself in the urban landscape. When I returned, my getaway car was waiting for me with the engine running. So, my advice is this. Bring a friend along. Make sure he/she doesn’t look seedy and has a good set of eyes. Be sure to feed them and provide all the things needed when building that sidekick foundation. Until then.
I’ve lived in New Jersey for twelve years now and in that time, done my share of driving. Wherever my travels take me, be it far or near. I always find myself feeling enamored with the factories, railroads and industrial sculptures that feel somewhat out of reach to a driver speeding down the interstate. Whether I’m driving alone or with a sidekick. The thought of pulling over or taking the next exit to seek out the adventures that often tease me to look deeper. That said, the thought is often just that. The facts that I’m usually on my way to something and driving at speeds that will most likely warrant a summons often postpone my urges to explore. Add to that, the areas that intrigue me the most are off limits and often patrolled by very suspicious security and or folks who call 911 as if it came with a free pizza.
So after moving to an area that was essentially surrounded by the same things that have intrigued me for years. I decided to take it upon myself to seek out those elusive treasures on foot. The risk of going out with a camera and photograph what is basically private property definitely has it’s risks. I learned this early on when I was innocently out shooting for a portfolio titled “Left Behind”. During that time I was confronted, chased by security guards and even detained by police as a possible terrorist suspect. Despite the possibilities of arrest and possible bodily harm. I find the rewards far outweigh the risks. It’s something I’ve been drawn since my pre – K days when my Father would bring me to the junk yards that lay just beyond Shea Stadium.
Till tis day, I find myself drawn to explore the factories, railroads and industrial centers more and more. And while I’d never recommend trespassing or breaking the law. I whole heartedly support following and documenting the things you love. Get out there, find it and document it. The world is yours.
As stated in my last post. I finally had the chance to wander the halls of Hoboken’s landmark building Neumann Leathers. After hitting the drums for an hour or so I took a few minutes to explore the nooks and crannies of this character filled old factory. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved going to factories, junk yards and “Off Limits” areas to explore, investigate and take pictures. Sadly, most of these places have quickly disappeared. Ultimately being replaced by soulless high rises and retail franchises. Forv me personally, finding spots like these is like winning the lottery. Below are several of my favorite images from my exploration.