Since the first day I picked up a camera, my favorite subjects have fallen into two categories: animals and abandoned “stuff.” The first subject, I’ve turned into a career. The second, I’ve made my private photographic obsession — until now when I begin to share it with you. I have always been drawn to what people choose to leave behind in this world — what they choose to forsake, so to speak. Whether it be a house or a dog; a whole culture or a single broken pot — what we leave behind tells a story about who who we are as human beings. These things were once valuable to their owners — someone once choose to be with them, maybe even treasured them and now, they have been left behind to rot, decay, disappear. This very human quirk absolutely fascinates me. And if it fascinates me, I want to take a picture of it.
I started my Forsaken Gallery project this past summer with the concept of shooting the abandoned homesteads around where I live. Urbanization, the economy and a host of other factors have changed the face of rural America. Where once were family farms are now abandoned homesteads leased out to and farmed by a larger farm operations (most of which are still family owned and operated, by the way). In the process, what was once the family farm home and its accompanying accouterments have become interesting ramshackles in various states of decay. Barns, equipment, outhouses, sheds, chairs, tables, shoes — once all important, now given back to whatever element will claim them.
So I started with the farm down the road, where the family house has been forsaken for many, many years. As I worked my way around the outside of the house, I started thinking about all the life that happened within the yard, and the rooms, and the barns. It was sad and beautiful at the same time. I spent several hours, just wandering and seeing and shooting.
While I was editing the photos from the house, I got to thinking about the fact that many things I photograph fall under the header of forsaken. For example, I try to get out the Southwest every few years and photograph Anasazi ruins in places like Chaco Canyon, Bandelier National Monument and Mesa Verde. I am absolutely inspired by walking around entire civilizations left behind to the desert and mountains. I can spend days photographing these sites and never, ever become bored or run out of things to look at.
Then I thought about my work with local animal shelters and some of the dogs I photograph. They are forsaken as well. Some just because no one has cared about them, ever. Others, however, were once valued members of a family — and now have been forsaken because of their age or a circumstance. These are the most heartbreaking to photograph — the senior dog looking hopefully at every person who walks by hoping to see their familiar person or the once pampered lap dog now crated on cold metal.
So much of what I do is “feel good” photography — meant to capture the most precious of moments and memories. And I cherish the opportunity to share these moments with my clients and subjects. But just as there is another side to life, there is another side to my passion with a camera.