The morning started with stopping at Alchemy to get coffee because we’re out at home. I ordered an espresso (which comes with a small seltzer water, which I like) and sat with my friend Shelby who happened to be there. About halfway through a man came up and sat with us and asked if I’d buy him a cup of coffee, which I did. I wanted to take his photo, but did not.
Besides being painfully shy when it comes to taking strangers’ photographs, I also cannot shake the feeling that I have such lousy motivations for doing so. One of the ongoing conversations with photos of strangers (consensual or otherwise) is the aspect of voyeurism and exploitation of someone’s image. This conversation becomes so aggressive in my head when thinking about approaching someone, wherein I feel like I have to catalog every motivation for photographing another human and weigh our relative social capital and solve for X that I far more often than not never do it. So the man, whose name I asked for but cannot remember, will remain unphotographed by me.
My camera stayed in my backpack during coffee. So it goes.
A bit past my bike is the spot where I was supposed to go according my random machine. I was not having any of that as I do not like ticks and the grass was wet. Last summer my roommate and best friend Will and I drove through the northeast going to the center of all the states, and ended up in similar situations. At one point we were trudging through the forest in order to get to the point we determined to be the center of Maryland, which also happened to be on an air force installation.
The center points were somewhat arbitrary, and these points are nothing but arbitrary, so I felt no real strong compulsion to to stand exactly on ‘that point’. The machismo of “go stand on that thing and claim it” is unshakable and distasteful to me at this point.
I ended up here, which looked like an abandoned lot in northside that was cut off by those apartments. I wondered how many times this random location would be somewhat less than savory, or how often I might get the chance to go to some downtown office building work my way in there to take pictures of copiers or somesuch.
Regardless, like the alleys, I got to thinking that if you just throw a dart at a map and go there, you’re probably going to find something dirty or broken or ugly, which makes sense to me- the beauty and order in the world is the exception, not the other way around.
There was a lot of juvenile graffiti there which I appreciated. I have shot this stuff before, though depending on where you are in the world I guess it all looks a little different. I don’t have more than a passing interesting graffiti culture, but it seems ripe for the thinking. My mans John DiJulio gets into this type stuff now and then, if you’re curious.
Again, abandoned buildings don’t interest me that much, but they’re there, and they’re certainly something. It makes you appreciate the exception of livable, comfortable spaces to consider that if you just stop caring about something, both people and nature will inevitably destroy it.
I played a sort of game here for a little bit, taking a brick and throwing it as high as I could and then photographing where it landed. Felt kinda like one of those 1970s photographers who just did a marginally interesting thing and then photographed the artifacts of the process. Regardless, it was fun, and a nice way to stretch my legs, literally and metaphorically.
I left that place, and went onto the next one, which happened to be a First Tee facility that was tucked away among all the factories and lots and whatnot up in north side.
If (and hopefully when) I become a teacher of photography, a teacher of art, I’m going to give my students what I hope they think are really obnoxious and asinine assignments. Things like, “take a photograph without using light unless you absolutely have to” or, the ‘assignment’ from which this next photograph sprung, “photograph a peculiar and terrifying sound”.
Very innocuously at the edge of the parking lot there was a slightly opened manhole cover, just narrow enough that one might miss it but plenty wide to fall into, and at the bottom there was some quite vigorously moving water. I stood on the edge of this, really quite scared, and it was an interesting experience. I was at the brink of the precipice which would almost certainly kill me if I fell into, yet I was surrounded by a completely unthreatening environment: a parking lot of a golf course.
Of course you can’t hear the water, but it sounded like a rattlesnake in the sense of immediate danger. I have been interested in these photos that represent unusual experiences by what is, most basically, a technically bad photo, but one which ends up being quite graphic. I don’t know if that’s really coming through in the photo, so I also took a video. But I’m not going to show you the video, because I think it helps embellish the sense of mystery.
On my way out of there I saw this building which of course begs to be photographed for no other reason than it’s strange. The sign read “fiscal fitness” and it looked to be out of business. Regardless, it was nice to look at.
And of course, you can’t help but take these photos sometimes.