The Beauty in Decay
This weekend was an interesting one, photography-wise. My friend Audra and I had an assignment to go out shooting with a large format camera in our Advanced Black and White class. I was so excited, because I had never shot with a large format camera before and I couldn't wait to step outside of my photography comfort zone and see the results that would come from it.
Audra suggested that we make it fun and go shooting together, and she told me that she knew of some abandoned buildings in the area. I wasn't expecting much, to be honest, but she surprised me by taking me to a old, worn-down decaying house that was only about five minutes away from campus!
The interior of the house was absolutely incredible. The walls were peeling, the fireplace had caved in, and there was graffiti everywhere.
It's really interesting, being inside a place like that. Everything you see in scary movies becomes real, and you trick yourself into believing you hear noises and feel movement around you. I don't know if the house was actually haunted by any kind of ghosts, but I could certainly feel the indelible presence of past owners as I imagined the stories that were woven into those deteriorating walls.
In the backyard, there were colorful school desk-chairs scattered around the yard, and a swing hanging from a tall tree. While Audra shot her large format photo, I took some shots of the yard with my digital SLR.
The following day, Audra suggested another building we should go see, and we drove out to another town not too far away. We believe this building to be an old, abandoned warehouse, but it was nothing like anything I had ever seen before. It was absolutely incredible.
The roof had caved in long ago, leaving only slats and boards up above us, and that allowed some gorgeous light to shine down around us. The creamy brick walls gave the building such a vintage, graceful look, and I couldn't resist taking plenty of photos around the place.
This is the large format camera Audra and I used, and we each took turns composing our shots and snapping photos around the warehouse. Below is the image that I could see on the back of the camera.
Of course, being the finicky portrait photographer that I am, I asked Audra to do some posing for me around the building, to which she gladly obliged. This woman is gorgeous!
Today, I was finally able to get the film from our large format camera developed, and I was so happy with the results! The film turned out absolutely gorgeous; there is something so timeless about it that you just simply cannot get from a digital camera. The clarity and quality of the photos was stunning, and I hope I can have more chances to work with large format film in the future.
I hope that every photographer has the chance to explore abandoned places from time to time. It isn't difficult to see beauty in pristine, contemporary buildings and landscapes, but it is a whole different kind of challenge to find beauty in decomposition--the "ugly stuff" in the world. There is magnificence and depth in everything, and this weekend's adventures truly proved that to me.