One of my favorite photographic subjects is decay, whether rural or urban, to include architectural, manufacturing, industrial, or unusually destroyed and abandoned things like trains or cars. I enjoy shooting it myself, and thoroughly enjoy viewing the work of other photographers who explore this vast subject matter.
My love of rural decay started back in college, in the early 1990s. For my senior project topic, I decided to explore a stretch of Highway 17 in Georgia from Savannah to the St. Mary’s River (the Georgia/Florida state line) in search of decay, the surrounding southern landscape and the coastal way of life. This stretch of highway was once a busy thoroughfare – travelers and businesses, small southern towns, a lifeline for all of the people who lived in proximity to this rural highway. Today, I-95 buzzes through, over, or bypasses much of this area. And, today, many parts of this area are abandoned – populations moved and nature is taking back her rightful place, obscuring what were once homes and businesses. I found the whole scene quite beautiful and fascinating, so for several quarters during my senior year in college, I would drive this stretch of highway from my home in Savannah, all the way to the Florida state line, photographing all the wonders along the way.
I traveled through small towns with wonderfully southern names…Eulonia, White Oak, Woodbine, made several crossings over the Satilla River, and found magical images around every turn. Some of my favorites are still in my portfolio – The South – on this website. There are a lot more favorites in that body of work. Someday, I’ll scan those negatives and share them here, but in the meantime…I’ve included another favorite.
My curiosity for this subject has not waivered and I continue to shoot these enchanting abandoned places here in the west. The image I’ve attached is an old abandoned train car located near Victor, Colorado. I firmly believe this is a fascinating subject for photographers, and because I enjoy this so much, I have shared this passion with my students. I teach an architectural photography class at Pikes Peak Community College. This course is very commercial oriented so that students learn how to photograph architecture for the purposes of real estate and ultimately, to make a living in the commercial photography world. However, I’ve added an extra credit assignment called Urban/Rural Decay that allows students to express their creativity and fine art passions through the search of this subject matter. I show them wonderfully inspiring examples of this type of imagery, and discuss the how to’s. After five years of teaching this course, I have to admit…these are not only my favorite images that come from my students, but so many of my students fall in love with the subject matter and continue to pursue it! How wonderful is that?
I promise to revisit this subject matter time and time again on this blog, so stay tuned.