I'm blogging this shot again. It was taken last fall.
I like this photo because in many ways it represents the city in which I live.
The often maligned Great Falls does have it all... or very nearly (we could use more quality regional and ethnic food). There is an amazing arts community, music all over the place, a wonderful collection of bars and pubs, beautiful nature near by, and so much more. I think, often, Great Falls is disregarded by its own people, who don't know how good they have it.
The people and the community are much like this building. Very rough and pieces are falling apart, but there is so much potential there. Everything you need is there, if under a layer of dirt and grime. Often Great Falls, much like this building becomes more beautiful because of the bits of dirt, and wear and tear. The beauty is in its roughness.
I guess overly polished just isn't my style.
When I returned to Billings, my home town, this weekend and had time to kill, I spent it taking photos is the old, dirty, run down part of town. I seem to do a bit of that everywhere I go.
There's a fair amount of complaint (and rightly so) about "ruin porn" within contemporary photography. The difference between "ruin porn" and documentary work that covers the less wealthy side of things, the run down, the falling apart in a less destructive way is in the emotion and intent behind it. The inherent difference lies in the tendency to either view things as a side-show... a car crash to gawk at, or to look at things with love. One can see these things as indicative of the resilience of the people in the area and the strength of community bonds despite the harshness of their economic environment. There is hope in this view. There is potential and a vision for a positive future, whereas the other viewpoint hopes for the continued crumble and fall.
To me, "ruin porn" holds no appeal. To me, the "arrived", wealthy, and polished, hold no beauty without a story to give it context.
To me, the potential, the growing, the hope for the future is where it's at.
I'm entering this one, for all these reasons, in the Old School Photo Lab Old School Photo Contest. I think it fits their mentality. It's all about the old school, and how our past can carry us foreward.