Photographing the forgotten, abandoned and broken

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19 Nov 2010 in Uncategorized

Author : Paul Davis

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Scott Bourne posted an interesting question to his photofocus blog today about why do people like to take pictures of old and deteriorating subjects because it’s so opposite of the traditional or classical beauty that many people look for. This question caught my attention because I love taking pictures of things that have been abandoned, forgotten or broken.

Old cemeteries, abandoned factories, houses, cars, planes and ghost towns are all things that get me excited about picking up a camera and discovering their hidden pictures.

Here are three reasons why I love taking pictures of old, distressed things:

  1. It’s a visual reminder that nothing lasts forever. Build whatever you want but everything fades away with time. It reminds me that I need to focus on the things that really matter in life – the people and relationships that are important to me. In the end, everything else is transitory and will be forgotten.
  2. Old things have character and hidden stories – I’ve never gone into an abandoned building or walked through an old cemetery or ghost town without looking around asking myself, “What happened here?  Who were these people? What did they try and do? Did they think it would last forever? What would they say if they could see this place now?”  Old places carry the scars of life and that gives them a character that I don’t often find in my usually sterile world. From bullet holes in truck windows to the house that’s been forgotten with the furniture still inside…it’s all fascinating to me.
  3. It’s a challenge – It’s hard to get into some of these places and sometimes the lighting conditions are difficult. I like the challenge of trying to get the picture and it’s always an adventure. There is a huge sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing that most people would not have made the effort.

I believe that the growth of HDR has had a big impact on this type photography as well. HDR makes it possible, especially in darker places, to capture the mood and share it completely with your viewer. If you try and use flash you will get flat, boring pictures and you’ll destroy the ambience of the place and the moment.  HDR when used with care, really allows your viewer to experience that place the same way you did.

What do you think?

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