Partly Yellow

It would appear it’s October, somehow? I don’t even remember September. Anyways, here’s a set from four months ago.

These empty houses are all that’s left of a small, century-old limestone mining village abandoned in the middle of nowhere. The little town is currently owned and being restored by a man kind enough to let photographers and those curious about history explore the property. His end game is to turn the village into a place for those interested in sustainable, early-American living to “go back in time” and learn how to respect and live off the land.

The last of the village’s inhabitants left in 2011.

People sometimes ask me why I don’t shoot very many abandoned homes. To be honest, it’s because I don’t really like it. I can’t seem to help putting myself in the other party’s shoes and it just loses its appeal. It feels very invasive and shady and disrespectful, even with permission. That’s not a dig at photographers who shoot houses; I love seeing their shots. I just have reservations about doing it myself.

I tried really hard to let that baggage go here and focus on the restoration efforts being made. The positives helped, but that off-putting feeling was hard to shake altogether.

I see the same naive comment any time someone shows a photo of an abandoned home; “How could they just up and leave like this?”

How? Easy. People don’t always leave a place they love by choice. Life (and death) sometimes make that decision for you, whether you like it or not.

My grandmother had that china set; the white porcelain with the little brown floral stamping. Finding a piece of her there in the disarray had me standing in the disintegrating kitchen fighting tears.

It was a proper metaphor for her passing’s effect on me. Since she died I’ve felt an awful lot like this kitchen looked; bleak and collapsing in on itself, desperately clinging to pieces of her memory.

This was one of the only homes on property with anything left inside. The structures here are all very uniform and homogeneous; mostly empty. Boring, if I’m being honest. These people, though, seem to have left just about everything behind, from photos to dishes to toys to clothes.

I finished shooting in a little over an hour. I spent the rest of my morning there playing with the caretaker’s many cats that roam the property, falling particularly hard for a little orange one.

That’s it! Off to edit more wedding photos and combat the worst seasonal allergies of my life. See you at the next one.

4 comments

  1. Great set of images, the family photo left behind. Really like the style of these houses, hope the restoration project succeeds.

  2. Nice to see this place…yeah, I get the house thing…one of the most depressing shoots I did was an abandoned mansion – full of things from furniture to medical records and photo albums. Love the shot with the mirror – and yes, ginger cats are very special…

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