Saturday, August 23, 2014

My Favorite Abandonment Photographs, Part 3 - Conclusions

On A Brighter Day - Tehachapi, California
It has been interesting looking at my favorite abandonment photographs, in color and monochrome. I have spent some time studying the images to better understand what I do and don't like about them. If I could capture each image over again, would I create them the same or would I make changes? I think most of my photographs could use some improvements, even if the changes were only minor. I'm very proud of a few where I believe I really nailed the shot.

One thing that I realized is that I have a standard method of photographing when I visit abandoned places. It is as if I have a checklist of what photographs to capture. This is all mental and subconscious. The problem with this is that I end up with a bunch of similar images that could be easily placed in four or five categories. There is a mold that I have created, and I think that mold is holding me back from taking this project to the next step.
Abandoned Boles-Aero Trailer - Mojave, California
I also realized what kind of abandonment photographs I like the best. First, I like black-and-white more than color. The extra drama that monochrome provides seems like a good fit for this project. I also noticed that there are two types of images that I prefer: bold and human remnants.

By "bold" I mean punchy, gritty and/or contrasty photographs. These are images that demand your attention simply because of the lighting, composition and post-processing.
Old Coffee Cup - Mojave, California
By "human remnants" I mean photographs that capture what was left behind. These images show that the place had activity and life. People once lived or worked in the old buildings, and now they're gone. For some reason they didn't take everything with them, giving small clues to what once was, but also leaving many unanswered questions.

Even better is when "bold" and "human remnants" are combined into one image. That is quite difficult to create, but I believe these are the types of photographs that I want to create for this project in the months and years ahead.
Peerless - Newberry Springs, California
What I want for this abandonment project is a series of photographs that grab your attention and perhaps even make you feel uneasy. I don't want a bunch of "pretty pictures." Within these images there are supposed to be bold statements and commentary, as well as mystery and uncertainty.

Taking some time off from this project and reflecting on what I've created has been helpful. Asking a whole bunch of questions and being a harsh critic of my own work has indeed been a positive experience. I believe I have a renewed vision moving forward.
The Sound of Silence - Mojave, California
In this post you'll find my 10 favorite abandonment photographs that I've captured. These are examples of the type of images that I want to create in the future. My vision is to create abandonment photographs that are as good as the ones you see here. 

I hope this journey has been as interesting for you as it has for me. Thank you for coming along for the ride. Perhaps this series will inspire you to do something similar with your own photographs.
A Light In The Dark - Tehachapi, California
Copy Machine - Mojave, California
Broken Souls - Newberry Springs, California
Web of Neglect - Mojave, California
VIP - Newberry Springs, California


  1. I missed part 2, so i just went back and looked through your favorites (monochrome). I've always loved monochrome or b/w photos better than color. Your tpo pics here are amazing and I think it's cool that you're critiquing your own work to push your own photographic vision further. I like how you describe the remnants as small clues to a life that once was. I'm always curious about the story behind the items of abandonment (probably why it causes a lot of internal questions for me when I see the images) :)

    This is such a great series! Reminds me a lot of what I saw growing up in the high dessert of Nevada ghost towns. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Of course I meant desert and not dessert ;-)

    2. Thank you, Sarah! The clues almost always leave more questions than answers, so perhaps that is what makes them interesting. Some day I might make it to some of Nevada's high desert ghost towns.