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.
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.