As creepy as it sounds, I love to spend time in and photograph cemeteries. Especially the older ones like Cypress Hills and Calvary, where there is an enormous variety of headstones and mausoleums. Some headstones have old black and white photos of the deceased embedded in them. Some mausoleums have stained glass that is almost completely intact. You can encounter graves going back to the early 1800s. The state of the graves can vary from pristine to completely decrepit. Similar to my fascination with urban decay you can feel the history and see how time and nature reclaims everything.
I’m drawn to photograph urban decay and industrial areas. Places that most people consider ugly I find to be endlessly beautiful. You can feel the history radiating from these sites. They’ve been abandoned, no longer considered productive and left to be reclaimed by the surrounding nature. These places are forgotten and often times will eventually be leveled and replaced by a new building that looks as uninspiring as all other contemporary structures. When I see areas like this I don’t see wasted space I see a missed opportunity for people to keep their history alive and I have to record what is left.
Recently I was interning for a company called Pblcty. They would send me out to specific events and I would take pictures of the “important” people. It was a good experience in the sense that I learned I never want to do anything like this ever again. The second thing I learned is that the entertainment and promotional business is insane. It’s no wonder that people like Alec Baldwin end up trying to punch out “photographers”.
I was always the youngest, the shortest, and the one with the least sophisticated equipment. Being the new kid on the block I basically tried to get the shots I needed without getting in the way of the professionals. Everyone else ran around, clicking like mad, and constantly yelling at the subject to “look right”, “look left”, “give us an over the shoulder”. Mean while the person is trying to keep from going blind for the rest of the night from the slew of flashes hitting them from every possible direction. The photographers are doing this for a living and they need to get a good picture but to literally be on top of each other to fire off shot after shot of a person that we already have a million pictures of is a bit excessive. There isn’t much art in a job like this. Everyone is holding down the shutter button hoping a shot or two comes out decent.
The last event I did was a nightclub opening downtown. It was a bit more complicated because the venue was literally still under construction. There were guys running in and out with masks and dust bellowing out of the sub-level entrance. They managed to wrap up only an hour behind schedule. The next four hours consisted of a severe amount of standing and waiting. Being one of the first people there I earned myself a spot in the front. I found out later in the evening that the older professional behind me wasn’t too happy about this. In between celebrities arrivals she took it upon herself to inform me that I should 1) get more expensive equipment 2) be careful because “other photographers” might get mad that an intern has a spot in the front. Nonplussed, did it look like I was going to give up my spot? Did she really think I couldn’t tell the difference between my equipment and hers? So my assignment wasn’t as important as her? Really? It was during this baffling encounter I realized that what I was doing symbolized everything I hate about digital photography. So the next day I quit.