July 1, 2013
People probably think that a professional photographer would be insane to pick up a camera while on vacation.
Whatever. I love my camera. I love the sound it makes when I release the shutter. I love the weight of it in my hand. I love it's temperamental vertical grip.
My camera is my best friend. My camera is my mistress.
To me, shooting without a script is just as relaxing as the world's most perfect beach. There is no pressure. There are no art directors. There are no contracts. There are no emails. There are no emails. There are no emails.
My art sucked today? What can ya do. Don't feel like editing until next month? Who cares. It's raining? Whatever. Selfies? Selfies.
It's just me, my camera, and whatever I feel like pointing it at.
Vacation is awesome.
Anyway, today I hung out with my buddy Kyle.
Kyle is a chef and an urban forager. He loves to wander through the woods on the banks of the Chattahoochee and harvest edible mushrooms. Black trumpets. Chanterelles. Coral Something. Soandso's Stinkhorn. I spent plenty of time in the woods as a child, but I'd never noticed the amazing abundance of wild edibles. To laymen it's all fungus. To him it's $$$ (pronounced "dolla dolla bills y'all"). He can sell these gourmet shrooms to high class restaurants in Atlanta at $25/lb. That's pretty awesome.
He introduced me to his favorite stretch of the Hooch. Actually, he introduced me to the Hooch in general. I was in elementary school the last time I even stepped foot on it's muddy banks.
I introduced him to sassafras, which was growing at the top of the trail. If you swing by his restaurant at exactly the right time, he says you might be able to enjoy some sassafras braised beast.
A while back, Kyle mentioned something about his interest in urban decay. We left the river and piqued said interest at an abandoned elementary school we found in Atlanta, closed since '95.
It had been a couple years since I'd last ventured into a deserted building, but it felt like just yesterday; everything was so familiar. Decay has the same smell, regardless of where you are. Schools smell like factories smell like churches smell like houses. It's walls wore the same senseless graffiti. The basement was out of the same horror flick, and I gave it the same "I'M TOTALLY OK ADMITTING THAT I'M TOO CHICKEN TO GO DOWN THERE."
Even with all of it's similarities, you could feel this place's unique soul. One hallway had a floor-to-ceiling mural of an epic dinosaur battle. The bathrooms had partitions made of solid marble. Someone ripped a door off it's hinges and used it to bridge a gaping hole on the second floor. There was a full blown tree growing in one of the rooms. There was the "Crackhead Throne."
Eventually we'd checked out every room, hallway, and staircase (except the stairs leading to the basement because we're not stupid). We made our way back out and over the fence.
You know it was a good day when you get home and you notice that your clothes are still wearing the decay; the smell and the multicolored smudges stick with you through at least one wash.
Now, how can I give up a totally cliche opportunity to say "The smell and the stains fade. The building will eventually crumble. Photos are forever" and then segue into the shots?