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When I was a teenager, I came across an
abandoned house in the woods on my way to a
pond to go ice skating.  Personal effects were
strewn about, having been abandoned for unknown
reasons.  There was something about this site that
intrigued me, as I could not help but wonder why
the house was abandoned and why the people who
lived there had left it this way.  It was the
beginning of my interest in abandoned structures,
though I would not photograph such places for
many years afterwards.

As renowned photographer Matthew Christopher
stated, photography about ruins is fundamentally
about death.  "The subject involves many
elements:  art criticism; history; preservation
advocacy; and sociology.  Abandoned structures are
functionally dead spaces.  Those who view this
type of photography expect that the images will be
presented with respect and that the subject will
not be exploited.  While a derelict building may not
be a corpse, in some ways it is just as significant.  
A dead factory, for example, may have had deep
personal significance for hundreds if not thousands
of workers.  Buildings such as churches are symbols
in addition to being once functional.  

It is important to tread lightly; these subjects are
the bodies of hope and ambition.  The most
common expectations of the photography of ruins
are that the history of the site will be disclosed;
that the impact the loss had on it will be
discussed; and that there will be advocacy
regarding the preservation of similar historic
structures to prevent future loss.

These sites offer a sobering glimpse of what our
future might look like if we do not address the
problems that created the situation.  These ruins
are indicators of impending social collapse.  Our
actions over the last several decades are having
catastrophic effects on our towns, our national
ecomomy, and our environment.  These ruins
illustrate the spirit not only of their architects, but
of those who live, love, work, and suffer within
them.  They demonstrate shifts in values, finances,
and ambitions."

I am going through what is commonly referred to
as a "midlife crisis".  At this point in my life, I am
thinking a lot about my own mortality and eventual
death.  In a way, these ruins represent mortality,
and that is part of my fascination with them.  
Exploring them in some ways is akin to exploring
ourselves, and in contemplating the life these ruins
once had, we are confronted with the inevitable
extinction of all things.

The following are images I have captured of rural
and urban decay.

Rural Decay


School in Loris, SC

Power Plant in Lorton, VA

Manufacturing Plant in Baltimore, MD

Prison in Lorton, VA

Silk Mill in Lonaconing, MD

Mental Asylum in Spring City, PA

Truck Graveyard in Columbia, VA

Railroad and Shop in Rockhill, PA

Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA

Plantation in Leesburg, VA

Asylum in Owings Mills, MD

Blacksmith Shop in Johnstown, PA

Trolley Graveyard near Johnstown, PA

Altar and Houses in Catonsville, MD