My friend, fellow author, and fellow photographer Mark Alger invited me to join him on a photo safari through Cincinnati, and the First Reader and I were with him yesterday. I had a marvelous time shooting everything in sight (over 1000 images!) and listening to Mark talk about the history of each area. I’ve only just begun to take a look at what I captured in the eight hours we were driving through the city looking at urban decay, churches, graveyards, parks…
It’s amazing the wealth of details that pass by our notice every single day. Today as I’ve gone about the dull routine of my life, I’ve been feeling more aware and alive to the beauty around me, having spent a whole day immersed in seeing rather than just passing by on my way to another destination. I know this won’t last forever, but the transient effect reminds me to be more in the moment and observant of what’s around me.
I shot a lot of doors. There’s something about old doors full of character that open the mind to the history that has passed through them. A hundred years of comings and goings, each one small, uncelebrated, but the accumulation of them wearing into the wood and stone like a unique sculpture that cannot be replicated.
And of course I didn’t just shoot buildings. My ever-patient First Reader who spent most of the day swapping memories of growing up in the area in the same era with Mark, spent the rest of it quietly reading while we talked cameras, lighting, and architectural details.
When Mark asked me what I wanted to see, other than settings for Lab Gremlins (we couldn’t go into the subway tunnels, but could look at the entrance locations), I told him I wanted to see urban decay. There’s something about the works of man slowly crumbling into rack and ruin that appeals to me. A twisted mind, perhaps, but there’s beauty undeniable in what was once glorious and is now returning to the mud whence it came.
Mark is a professional photographer, but I was seeking beauty, stories, and germs of what might become stories in the images I captured. This day will feed my brain for a long time, and hopefully fuel new tales from the art I create visually into text.