Why I shoot the remains of yesterday.

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Stairways leading to nowhere have always fascinated me. I look and can not help but wonder to what they led to? A house? A mansion? Something industrial? Who knows. But getting out of the car I’m in they were the first thing to catch my attention.

Crossing the street alongside fellow Photographer Jay Farrell we take a look at what we are fairly sure is an abandoned factory or warehouse. We begin to walk alongside the building’s lot and follow it’s barbwires fence looking for a way in. Finally after a bit of hunting we find our way in.

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Squeezing in-between the fence posts is not fun but it’s worth the tetanus risk. Once in we fan out and being to shoot. I’ve had people ask me over and over

“Why. Why do you shoot these places”?

Here is my answer.

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Every location I shoot speaks a thousand mysteries to me. I can not write them all down. My hope is that you the viewer make up your own stories from what you see. Every time I finish a shoot I want you, YOU to ask what I ask “What happened here”? “Who lived or worked here? What happened to them”? The door that has been riddled with a shotgun blast. The stairwell hidden in a second floor closet. Stains that run down the wall and so much more.

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Another thing that draws my eye and beckons me forward are darkened doorways, I can not say no to going through them.

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To not go through the doorway, to not explore and document, to not turn my imagination loose; that in my mind would be a crime.

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Just look at the photo above. How can you not wonder what is under all that mess? How long has it built up and what is on the other side that door in the wall? Hell! How do I get over to it?

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I follow Jay down to the courtyard we’ve found. Perhaps once it was covered but now it is open to the sky. We geek out at the size of a boiler we’ve come across. Damn! Hist look at it! It looks like something out of Victorian story! And it’s running. It’s running! Ohhh cool! Of course that means this place is not abandoned.

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We explore a few shallow cave like enclosures but they lead to large steel doors. We can open the doors an inch or so. Doing so confirms that the place is indeed still in use. We can not see much but we can see chains keeping the doors shut (creepy) and weak electric lights.

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It is with this discovery Jay and I take our leave. If we could step through the chained doors we likely would. The weak light within does not reveal much and that is what is to me so tempting. As I said earlier. These places they generate so many possibilities and my mind does not stop wonder “What”.

 

Only the shell remained

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On Dec 11th 2016 the Eastminster Presbyterian Church in East Nashville caught fire not once but twice. The first time it caught fire the Fire Dept put out the flames but later that night it caught fire again, this time there was no saving the structure. Sadly all that remains now is the shell, and a bit of the interior which is soggy, burnt  and awaiting the wrecking ball?

Today as I drove by the sad remains I noticed that the fence that had surrounded the grounds had blown over. My trip to East Nashville was to go and shoot abandoned properties in Nashville alongside fellow Photographer Jay Farrell. While we usually seek harder to find buildings, I could not pass this by nor could Jay. burnt_01

Grabbing our cameras we crossed over into the previously closed off area and began to do what we enjoy doing. The documentation of an abandoned bit of Tennessee. Now I do have to caution you the reader. Shooting these sites is not for the sane. Shooting these structures from the outside is fine but the real action is inside.

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Is this safe? Hell no! Is it clean? Once again, hell no. All I can say is that one must throw caution to the wind, take a breath and cross into the carcass of yesterday. Do not wear anything you’d regret ruining, and make sure your Tetanus shots are up to date. Oh and maybe text someone with a general idea of where you are in case you get trapped inside. I am serious about that.

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Stepping over the threshold of the lower floor I take a second to look around and get an idea of what is what. Luckily the floor while damp and spongy is not actually flooded. burnt_011

Before I begin to walk around the wreckage I take another second to carefully plot out my course. I make sure to look for pitfalls, boards with nails sticking out, shards of glass and other potential hazards to my feet and to the rest of me should I fall.

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The fire here was so hot that everything is charred! Amazing anything is standing

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especially the floor above me! Look at that! It looks like the footage of ruins seen in war zones.

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I can not imagine the heat or the dedication of the men and women who fought this fire not just once but both times. Nor can I imagine the sense of loss by those who over the years have attended this church. It must have been crushing.

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Towards the back of the church I come across more charred remains some that really catch my eye and need to be documented. burnt_030

There is something peaceful and sad about this bowl. Something amazing about it as well. It’s glass. It should have broken or shattered. If not from the conflagration than at least from the powerful jets of water that were used to extinguish the flames. But no, it stands more of less in pristine condition.

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Above I spy the sweeping backend of a piano. I wish there were a means to get up there and photograph it.

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Finally I feel it’s time to exit what’s left of the church’s interior.

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I walk around the exterior and meet up with Jay. We shoot a few remaining exterior images and call it a day, or at least for this site.

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I truly hope you enjoyed this journey through a bit of Forgotten Tennessee. If you decide to try doing some documenting yourself please remember to be careful, you could end up as part of the remains you’re exploring.

 

 

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions

PrintNew Year’s resolutions. What are yours? Is there a chance you’ll keep them? Good luck, I hope you do. For myself? See the following.

Physically I plan to finally get my weight down to 275 lbs. When I started my journey to a better body I started @ 360lbs wearing 4 & 5x shirts. That was 7 months in to 2013. Now it’s 2016 and I weigh between 294 and 306lbs. I wear 2x t-shirts for the first time since high school. Wonderful progress indeed but 275lbs is the next goal and then after that 250lbs. I believe this is possible. It would mean a chance of lowering my Blood sugar number down to a 5 and hey that may mean I can be taken off Diabetic Meds.

Professionally my goals are to come out of this semi self imposed exile. To get my work out to galleries and agencies. Not just the photography but the design & illustration stuff too. My goal is to start meeting up with those of similar mindset and goals. At one point my name was out there and was recognized. Time to make that happen again.

Personally. I’ve not even tried to date someone in quite sometime. This is was due to  a low physical self esteem and to my previous preference in mates. From here on if certain criteria are not there then neither am I. I will not pursue if I can not see an equal effort from someone I am interested in. Happiness is not something that can be achieved by being with the wrong person(s).

So there are my resolutions so far. Good luck to us all in achieving and keeping them.

FEAR FRONT PUBLISHING!

Back in October I started doing some work for a company called Fear Front Publishing. They’re a publishing company dedicated to my favorite genre of fiction, Horror. Rob DiLauro brought me on board and in November assigned me 4 books to do covers for. J.P. Willie’s Blood in the Woods, Preston Fassel’s Our Lady of the Inferno, Reyna Young’s Winter Night Falls and Maese Delta’s Crimson Malice.

I could not have been more thrilled. I decided that the best thing I could do would be to contact the authors and get as much descriptive information and summaries of their stories as I could. I made this decision because I detest book covers that make me think that the designer/illustrator had little if any idea of the story they were doing a cover for.  I’m so glad I did this. I ended up with pretty solid images in my head as to what I wanted to get these covers to look like. I knocked out the initial thumbnails and sent them over to Rob and his Senior Designer Scott Deyett. After a few changes they felt it was time to send the covers over to the authors. Was I nervous, yes and no.

The authors LOVED the covers I did! Damn that is what I wanted to hear! They were thrilled that they had a hand in the design of the covers, apparently that is not the norm. Scott the Senior Designer said of Preston Fassel’s Our Lady of the Inferno  “If I didn’t know better I’d thought you read the book already”. Joe Willie said “I’d picked the image right out of his head”! Both Reyna Young and Maese Delta spoke equally well of their covers. I won’t lie this assignment and it’s reception has made my 2016 a bit brighter.

Below are my covers. If you’d like to purchase these 4 tales of Terror you can do so Dec. 27TH, 2016 at http://fearfrontpublishing.com

Preston Fassel

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J.P. Willie

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Reyna Young

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Maese Delta

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These titles are part of the Second Wave of Fear Front Authors. I can’t wait for the 3rd.

150 feet from the road?

Today I took a ride out on Old Nashville, Why in Murfreesboro, TN and looked for a house a friend of mine told me about.

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Now I thought I’d have to ride out for a least an hour. Nope. No I went maybe 8 mins. To the right of me was a house I’d apparently ridden by for maybe the entire time I’ve lived in this town.

It’d been hidden for more than 30 years or longer behind a orly amazing cluster of trees and underbrush and it was no more than 150 feet from the asphalt of the highway!

 

Now that I find AMAZING!

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And that is why I love shooting and sharing my work. Enjoy.