I must say, when we were first assigned the photo narrative project, I kind of cringed a little bit. I have probably taken a grand total of about 40 photographs in my life, and for whatever reason I have never really had the desire to express myself through that medium. When I was younger, photography was more or less lazy way of composing original works of art. Why would I want to take a picture of something that already exists when I can just draw an picture that I find to be much more interesting? My opinion of that has certainly changed as I’ve gotten older and learned to appreciate the medium more and more (mostly because I realized how truly difficult it is to take compelling pictures of the preexisting objects), and The Ruins of Detroit is something that really speaks to me.
Perhaps it is because I’ve grown up in the Pittsburgh area my entire life. Specifically, I grew up in the old mill town of Aliquippa, a place that was once a bustling town full of industry and prosperity. Since the decline of the steel industry within the area, however, Aliquippa has fallen on seemingly irrevocable hard times. It is too far removed from any other large metropolitan areas to attract any new business, and it really has not made any strides in creating any new forms of industry itself. In many ways, Aliquippa is like an old celluloid negative: the picture is still there, but it deteriorates a little more with every passing year.
Like the images captured in Detroit, Aliquippa is full of once proud architecture, from the grand B.F. Jones Library to the old secluded train station. It has all mostly fallen into disuse, however, a shade of its former glory. Detroit perfectly encapsulates the feelings that I have for the area, the feelings of pity, of longing, of reverence, and ultimately of resignation for the fate of my hometown. It’s beautiful and bittersweet, a lovely homage to a town whose pages in the history books seem to be forever stuck together.