Few subjects captivate me as much as abandoned houses in the Virginia landscape. So much so that I have dedicated a large chunk of my personal work to seeking out these houses, as well as frequently returning to the same one to photograph anew. The reason. quite simply, is a spirit-based energy I feel in their presence. These "open caskets" suggest a dying dream that's "soul" is slowly returning itself to the the natural world. So with that I give you our latest playlist, "Music for photographing abandoned houses". Most of the music suggests a rickety ambience that is often found in experimental primitive guitar music. Soulful and psychedelic. Enjoy!
Experiences and thoughts on photographing abandoned houses:
1. I rarely if ever go inside
I am not opposed to going inside but generally am more interested in capturing the energy/angle of the structure and it's relationship to the landscape it decays in. It's kind of like photographing a dead body but avoiding the autopsy if you will
2. The overwhelming textural detail is perfect for 35mm film
One of things that quickly became apparent when photographing abandoned houses, particularly in winter is the insane of amount of textural detail between the rotting wood, over grown vines, tree branches, dead grasses. It's an amount of detail that a 35mm negative has trouble capturing. Sometimes the film looks a little splotchy in the dense areas. To me this creates a "ghostly staining" that in a sense creates a little ambiguity which mimics decay.
3. These subjects are incredibly fleeting
I have been photographing these houses for about 3 years now and since then 4-6 of these no longer exist. The fleeting nature of the subject matter gives it an additional energy and poignancy that drives me to want to capture what I see and feel. Not only that, but because of how vulnerable these houses are to the weather, vandalism, and animal interaction they can take on dramatically different appearances. I've had a story book white house go from pristine to, graffiti-covered, to fallen tree on roof, to completely gone and just a pile of dirt. Again it's these constant changes that drives me to keep returning to experience the change. Every time one of these places is gone when I return I can't help but feel a little sad but also grateful that I captured it.
4. I rarely feel "scared" or "creeped" out by them
Most people respond to decaying abandoned homes with cliche reactions like "haunted", "creepy", "horror-movie", "spooky". I totally understand those reactions but I must say I rarely feel those emotions. Most of the time, and this is going to sound a little strange, I feel like the house is happy that I stopped by and there is this beautiful welcoming spirit I feel. I feel like time has stopped and I am paying my respects to a forgotten place and life. And once I meet the house for the first time there is this constant "calling" deep inside me to come back and visit an old friend.
Thanks so much for reading and I hope you found this a little inspiring to go out and make photographs of things that deeply captivate you.