After you’ve been photographing a few years, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, themes in your work start to recur.
For me a major theme is making pictures of abandoned objects that are rusting and decaying.
So what’s this about?
Why do I enjoy capturing what most others would consider discarded and ugly, not worth even seeking out, let alone photographing?
Two aspects come to mind.
1. Delicious Textures
Take a look at a shiny chrome bumper on a vintage car and maybe initially your eye might drawn like a magpie to jewellery.
But a second later, that’s it. It’s just a bright silver bumper, uniformly shiny across its surface. There’s little to maintain the interest.
Take a similar object or part of a vehicle that’s been neglected for long enough for nature’s elements to take hold, and you’re immersed in the midst of a slowly evolving and fascinating journey.
A few years ago, the object didn’t look like this.
A few years hence, it will be further gone, perhaps starting to flake and crumble into the earth below.
In addition, most rusting or decaying objects start to take on incredible textures, again a depth and interest that something a highly polished chrome bumper or finely polished wooden table top doesn’t have.
Photographing in black and white as I prefer to do, and the textures can seem enhanced even more.
A close up of a decaying piece of wood can look like an aerial view of a mount range or canyon.
2. Nature reclaiming the man made
Secondly, being a huge fan of nature, I love being reminded of its incredible power.
Sometimes this can be dramatic, like waves crashing on a rock face, or a a howling wind making vast trees sway as if they were merely feathers.
But what I find even more powerful and intriguing is nature’s slow motion reclamation of the man made, over months, years, decades.
The way a tiny weed can rise up through a foot of tarmac. Or the way that over years, something as apparently strong as metal can be reduced to mere flaking dust.
In addition this near invincibility of nature – and how it can recover and regenerate – is all the more reassuring in the wake of the state that some parts of the world are in today.
In other words, it gives me hope.
So it’s for these two main reasons – which could be simplified as beauty, and hope – I’ve been photographing decay and rust for years, and can’t see the appeal dwindling any time soon.
How about you? Do you enjoy seeing and making photographs of decay and rust, and if so, why?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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