My love for photography took root in college. I enrolled in a film photography class during my first semester- but it wasn't until I took a photojournalism course at the University of Oklahoma that I began to understand why I was so drawn to this visual medium.
Photography allowed me to tell stories from my perspective, without the limitations of verbal bias.
'Abandoned' is the first complete photo essay I ever produced. It included the documentation of two abandoned properties around the outskirts of Norman, Oklahoma.
I was captivated by the decaying structures, once so full of life. The remains of real families daily rituals and traditions echoed in these spaces- even without walls left to hold them in.
I remember really fighting for this story with my professor (one of my favorite professors at Gaylord). She didn't think I had much of a story- and in some ways she was right.
Not much was happening in these spaces. There was no big event, no real controversial headline to dig into. But that's precisely what drew me in.
Inside these crumbling walls were a million stories, abandoned. Stories left on pause for time and nature to reclaim ownership over.
I entered curious, and left even more so.
Who were these people? What happened the day they left? Was it a fire? Were they going bankrupt? Were they suddenly forced into a life on the run? Why had nobody else taken over the property? Where are these families today? Are they even alive?..
For the sake of my GPA, I put together a storyline that discussed the community challenges that abandoned properties create; lowering property values, hazardous to curious kids, havens for drug abuse, and often inhabited by people who've become homeless.
But that wasn't the real story I saw in these images.
It was the questions these pictures left me with that formed the story I wanted to tell.
A story that can only be shared through the unspoken, and often cryptic, language of photography.