Tag Archives: Enemy of the People

Why does this lens flare make me so happy?

Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant stores
Seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more
They’re closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back 
To your hometown
Your hometown
Your hometown
Your hometown

(Bruce Springsteen)

The rusty fan was spinning gently in the breeze in the upstairs window against the peeling aqua paint. I was not going to walk away without trying to capture some of what I felt. I knew I was getting lens flare, so I repositioned and attached the lens hood to try to avoid it, but it was the shot with the lens flare that evoked what I felt.

Last week I gave myself a gift.  I told myself that I could have most of a day just to drive around and photograph the world.  OK, not the whole world.  I had abandoned textile mills on my mind, and a bit of sleuthing along with some memories from a recent trip had me headed toward Haw River.  I spent way too long finding what would become my favorite location, and by the time I found this place and gathered up my courage to walk around by myself, the autumn sun was low in the sky, and lighting conditions were interesting at best.

When I took this shot I was totally on edge.  My car was acting funny and I was worried about getting stranded, I needed to pee, I was hungry, I was about to be late for an early evening engagement because I was going to hit Interstate rush hour, but mostly I was emotionally spooked. There was something around me I could not put words to. It seemed I could feel the presence of all the workers who had one day made their living here – and the emptiness left when jobs go away. What will we fill that emptiness with?

The lens flare makes me happy on many levels.  It’s real.  It’s not a filter. It’s what happened.

I’ll be projecting this and many many many other images of abandonment, and hometowns, and real people, on November 8th at Motorco in Durham.  More details here and here.  Please join me.