Pennsylvania Project

Ammon and Mervin take a break on a hot July day.

Recently, I wrote about the beginning of a new personal project. Since that post I have logged about 30 hours on the road in Pennsylvania and have many new photographs of the Keystone State and the people who live here. If you remember, the project began with the exploration of an abandoned building in Northern PA. I decided that I wanted to continue this study of vacant spaces but also begin to talk to and photograph the people that live near these places. The result has been that I have met some great people and subsequently learned a lot about the varying perspectives on the state of our economy and way of life.

With each trip I learn more about the state I have spent 23 of my 31 years of life in. I am discovering places I never knew existed while learning about my fellow Pennsylvanians. So far this project has been about exploration and discovery. I am enjoying the developmental process and still really don't have a definitive theme. Right now this project exists as a very broad story about Pennsylvania and I kind of like that.

Below is a gallery of a few recent images. I'd love to hear what you think about them so if you feel inclined, please leave a comment. And if you know of any unique areas in Pennsylvania I should explore, let me know and maybe I'll check it out.

Jake catching helgramites

While photographing at a tire center I met a man who invited me to his house for coffee. This is the view we had as we talked and drank coffee.

Frank, a retired mechanic poses for a portrait outside his house

Sharlene smokes a cigarette and checks her phone just off the PA turnpike.

An abandoned motel in Breezewood.

Abandoned Restaurant

Given some of the comments from my last post, I thought it would be interesting to show a little more work from the abandoned restaurant that started this new project. Maybe some of these images can give you more information to create your own story about this place. Why does this restaurant sit empty? Who were the people running this business. Where are they now? What kind of food did they serve?

Clearly, this door has not been opened in some time yet the screen door hangs open as if waiting for the next person to enter. I wish I would have tried to open that door.

A child's bike was left behind. Why? Does someone still play with it?

An advertisement for the Eagles Mere Chamber Music Concert sits in the window. Someone took the time to organize the pine cones and position the flower on this shelf. Was it the owner of the bike?

Pennants still hang and the welcome sign is still out. What happened here? Is this an indicator of our current economy or was it something else? What do you think?

The Start of a New Project

Any working photographer knows the importance of creating personal projects. These are projects that come from the heart. Projects that might not have a specific end goal or purpose other than to fulfill one's photographic curiosity.

They are important because they encourage creativity and experimentation. It's incredibly freeing to shoot without restriction and the knowledge that it doesn't really matter if what you shoot sucks. I always aim to make great photos, but when I'm shooting for me, I allow myself to make bad pictures. They might just lead to something better.

With this in mind I have begun a new project. It doesn't have a title yet or really a definitive direction. It's simply an idea in it's infancy that I hope to expand upon and make more clear.

The inspiration for this project came during a stop at an abandoned restaurant in northern Pennsylvania. I had passed this restaurant at least a dozen times before and it always fascinated me. I finally took the time to stop and had a great time photographing the building. With this one visit I planted the seed for and idea to begin exploring areas of Pennsylvania I have never seen. Last weekend I took a road trip and explored some towns immediately to the west and north of me. I am still editing the photos from this first trip, but here is a photo from that initial inspiring restaurant. Keep an eye out for future updates on this project.

What projects are you working on?