The Alleyways in Auburn


Afternoon Alley SunAfternoon Alley Sun

Afternoon Alley Sun

As of late I seem to be going from one day shooting thousands of images of an event to shooting almost nothing. Shooting nothing serious for days drives me nuts. But those are the times I try to get out of my comfort zone, slow down, and tackle subjects that have no deadlines, that interest me personally, but also will advance my knowledge and experience as a photographer.

It’s quiet here in Auburn right now. The calm before the fall-sports-storm, when you can get a table at a restaurant and find a parking place. But that makes street/people subjects challenging. In my ongoing series The Streets of Auburn Project, I have added a few from the “Alleys of Auburn,” but this is just a start of that point of view, or a first initial look at the alleyways, and I didn’t make it very far that day.

Why take images of an alleyway? (Which by the way is pretty much the question I get no matter what shot I’m taking, (1) why are you taking a photo of xyz, and (2) what do you do with all those images.) Well, photographically alley’s are great for working on composition, and often have super directional light, converging lines, shadows, and unpredictability.

It’s probably not super well known outside of the locals, but Auburn has some great alleyways, and I doubt they are the most photographed areas of the town either. Several of them were updated along with College and Magnolia on Toomer’s Corner last summer. Even though it’s been about a year I hadn’t made time to see what photo opportunities they might have until a few weeks ago. I didn’t get near the time I wanted to spend down there just about an hour was all I had, but I love the shot below of the jogger, one of my favorites so far, I just couldn’t decide which frame I like better, coming or going. At 7-FPS (frames per second) he was in and out of the alley in literally less than one second, two frames was all I was able to capture.

I’m not really counting these images towards my “street photography” project since most are void of people, but I love the alley over by J&M Bookstore. The colors and lines and uniqueness of the conveyor belt make it a fun place.


Alley RunnerAlley Runner

Alley Runner


Alley RunnerAlley Runner

Alley Runner


Self Portrait in the ShadowsSelf Portrait in the Shadows

Self Portrait in the Shadows

Yes, these two below aren’t in the alleyway, but the sunset on the back country roads was beautiful that night, and I had to include a shot from one of our favorite restaurants BurgerFi, especially for those who we not-so-randomly run into on Friday nights over there, you know who you are.


BugerFi HatBugerFi Hat

BugerFi Hat


Sunset on the Country RoadsSunset on the Country Roads

Sunset on the Country Roads

An Auburn Alley or Two

Afternoon Alley Sun

The sun in the late afternoon in the alley near J&M Bookstore in Auburn

As of late I seem to be going from one day shooting thousands of images of an event to shooting almost nothing. Shooting nothing serious for days drives me nuts. But those are the times I try to get out of my comfort zone, slow down, and tackle subjects that have no deadlines, that interest me personally, but also will advance my knowledge and experience as a photographer.

It’s quiet here in Auburn right now. The calm before the fall-sports-storm, when you can get a table at a restaurant and find a parking place. But that makes street/people subjects challenging. In my ongoing series The Streets of Auburn Project, I have added a few from the “Alleys of Auburn,” but this is just a start of that point of view, or a first initial look at the alleyways, and I didn’t make it very far that day.

Continue reading

Rural Decay Photo Ops


Abandon House Engulfed in GrowthAbandon House Engulfed in Growth

Abandon House Engulfed in Growth

I have a few projects I’m kicking off on my blog and one of them is The Rural Decay Project. I’ve been interested in this topic for a while now, and have made some loose attempts at photographically capturing these images but until recently without much cohesiveness that one needs to tell a story.

One of the things about photography that took me a while to learn is you can’t always be thinking about that exotic locale that you might get to visit some day to finally make some great images. To be a photographer is more than vacation or travel, you have to photograph what is around you all the time in your daily routine of life. That can sound quite boring for some of us that don’t live in some beside resort community, but it works, and it’s unique to you.

For me, living in the rural south (or at least on the edge of both rural and “city” being outside of Auburn), what’s around me all the time are these great old structures that once contained life and vitality, but now are being consumed by the earth. This is similar to the urban decay photography that is all the rage in places like Detroit and Chicago, or even places like Chernobyl (and this Chernobyl 30 years later project, which is also amazing), but for those of us who live nowhere near great opportunities like that, you have to photograph where you are right now.

There are hundreds if not thousands of photographic opportunities like this all over the place. Some of the more well known ones are Old Cahawba, covered bridge (these are actually everywhere if you look closely), Sloss Furnace, there is even a (man-made) ghost town close by, Spectre Alabama, that I hope to someday photograph before access is impossible. On a side note; Spectre, Alabama was a custom movie set, built for Tim Burton’s fantasy film Big Fish. The set is located on an island in a river outside of Montgomery, Alabama.

For now, I’m sticking with what’s closest to where I live, and what’s probably the least known places. I love this old gas station that sits pristine on the side of Highway 80. I can imagine it once was a fine place to stop on the drive between Montgomery and Atlanta before the interstate was built. The old house at the top of this article sits at the intersection of Highway 80/51, and actually looks like it’s in pristine condition other than natural growth.


Abandon Gas StationAbandon Gas Station

Abandon Gas Station


Broken Windows to DarknessBroken Windows to Darkness

Broken Windows to Darkness


Rusty FenceRusty Fence

Rusty Fence


Old Factory Gate LockedOld Factory Gate Locked

Old Factory Gate Locked


Abandon House Torn DownAbandon House Torn Down

Abandon House Torn Down

The Rural Decay Photo Ops in the South

Abandon House Engulfed in Growth

This house is being consumed by the ivy and tree growth around it since being boarded up.

I have a few projects I’m kicking off on my blog and one of them is The Rural Decay Project. I’ve been interested in this topic for a while now, and have made some loose attempts at photographically capturing these images but until recently without much cohesiveness that one needs to tell a story.

One of the things about photography that took me a while to learn is you can’t always be thinking about that exotic locale that you might get to visit some day to finally make some great images. To be a photographer is more than vacation or travel, you have to photograph what is around you all the time in your daily routine of life. That can sound quite boring for some of us that don’t live in some beside resort community, but it works, and it’s unique to you.

Continue reading

Toomer’s Drugs and the Streets of Auburn


Toomer's Corner in AuburnToomer's Corner in Auburn

Toomer’s Corner in Auburn

This week I finally had a few spare minutes to get downtown to take some street shots. I’ve been wanting to practice up on my black and white technique and revisit street photography for a long time but just never made time to do it. Auburn is generally a fantastic place for street photography for several reasons; people are super friendly (almost overly so which also has it’s challenges in shooting), there is almost always something going on that makes for interesting subjects (especially during football season), and it’s a small condensed area so you can cover a lot of ground by foot quickly.

This time I purposely picked an afternoon when the streets were basically empty to try out some different compositional ideas without getting in someone’s way. Obviously it’s a little difficult to get some good contextual street photography action without anyone really being in town, but I felt a few images worked in this set. I am continually amazed at the intricacies of black and white photography and I love how complex it is after spending decades shooting only in color. Retraining the brain to think in black and white, learning to see in black and white; it’s all so much more than taking a color image and hitting the black and white button in Lightroom. It’s a whole other world out there as they say, and something I’m looking forward to learning in great detail over the next several years.


College Street PhoneCollege Street Phone

College Street Phone


Walking TalkingWalking Talking

Walking Talking


Strolling HeatStrolling Heat

Strolling Heat


Walking the DogWalking the Dog

Walking the Dog

The Streets of Auburn, Part 1

Toomer's Corner in Auburn

The famous Toomer’s Corner Drugstore in Auburn in the summer

This week I finally had a few spare minutes to get downtown to take some street shots. I’ve been wanting to practice up on my black and white technique and revisit street photography for a long time but just never made time to do it. Auburn is generally a fantastic place for street photography for several reasons; people are super friendly (almost overly so which also has it’s challenges in shooting), there is almost always something going on that makes for interesting subjects (especially during football season), and it’s a small condensed area so you can cover a lot of ground by foot quickly.

Continue reading

Don’t Include Power Lines in Your Photography


Power Line SunrisePower Line Sunrise

Power Line Sunrise

Since January I’ve spent a good bit of time reading and re-reading all of Eric Kim’s books on street photography. There is so much practical real world advise in each one of his books that they are probably the few collection of books I’ve read multiple times. While we share different philosophies on life, we both share a love of photography, and it seems, a driving desire to continue to learn and improve. One of the reasons I continued to read and follow Eric Kim’s work over the years is he has completely changed and rearranged how I think about photography.

He’s made me re-think how I view my own personal photography, what’s acceptable as a quality image and what’s not, and even what equipment is actually truly needed. All those rules I spent years learning, like “don’t include power lines in your photography” it will ruin the shot, were disseminated by Kim’s books. I think I was 10 years into photography before I actually realized it was ok to include people in the images (my main teacher and book learning early on was 100% nature photography).

When you have been doing something, like practicing photography for 25 years, you don’t often come across new ways of thinking about the art, so it’s been a super refreshing experience so far this year. The ideas below came straight out of one of his books, The Street Photography Project Manual, which I was able to read because of his vision on open source information.


Abandon Gas StationAbandon Gas Station

Abandon Gas Station

On a practical level I updated all the pages and theme design on my site to lend itself better to telling a story through photography, and I’m going to focus most of my time on this site on photography, but all the content from the past 10 plus years will remain. What I gained from Kim’s books that was always lacking in my personal walk with photography were the projects, the completed stories, the collection of images that actually completes something.

I’ve wanted to write a photography book of some kind for years. At this point I have 25 years of experience with close to 500,000 images, and practically countless stories within those images. It took a lot to get me to the point of reading Kim’s Project Manual but that’s what finally pushed me to take a serious look at working on deeper projects. And that’s what I’ve started to do here.


Rotting Door Rural Decay Structure 2.100Rotting Door Rural Decay Structure 2.100

Rotting Door Rural Decay Structure 2.100

I’ve created a section called “projects” which will contain ongoing images from a few different projects like the Faith Project, the Decay Project, the Street Project, and one I just started I’m calling My Street Project. The My Street Project is something I picked up from Kim to just shoot where you are, and while I love the classic “street photography” I don’t live anywhere near a busy street, in fact the opposite. So I’m going to spend about a year documenting the “street” I do live on, even though right now all I can see is trash and grass. But like I said, my view of what’s artistic and photographic has changed significantly.

So, if you are interested in following along with my projects, they won’t be posted here on my blog so people don’t get bombarded by images they may or may not enjoy. They will be posted on my Projects Portfolio which you can get to from the link or the main navigation at the top. A personal thanks to Eric Kim for the inspiration, and if you are looking to add a new book to your collection that probably isn’t one you might have come across before, I would highly recommend Galen Rowell’s Inner Game of Outdoor Photography, a collection of 66 essays and some of the finest writing on the art and philosophy of photography.

Don’t Include Power Lines in Your Photography

Power Line Sunrise

Power lines run all over the place in rural Alabama, no such thing as underground lines.

Since January I’ve spent a good bit of time reading and re-reading all of Eric Kim’s books on street photography. There is so much practical real world advise in each one of his books that they are probably the few collection of books I’ve read multiple times. While we share different philosophies on life, we both share a love of photography, and it seems, a driving desire to continue to learn and improve. One of the reasons I continued to read and follow Eric Kim’s work over the years is he has completely changed and rearranged how I think about photography.

He’s made me re-think how I view my own personal photography, what’s acceptable as a quality image and what’s not, and even what equipment is actually truly needed. All those rules I spent years learning, like “don’t include power lines in your photography” it will ruin the shot, were disseminated by Kim’s books. I think I was 10 years into photography before I actually realized it was ok to include people in the images (my main teacher and book learning early on was 100% nature photography).

When you have been doing something, like practicing photography for 25 years, you don’t often come across new ways of thinking about the art, so it’s been a super refreshing experience so far this year. The ideas below came straight out of one of his books, The Street Photography Project Manual, which I was able to read because of his vision on open source information.

Continue reading

The Rush of Life


Overlooking an Atlanta FreewayOverlooking an Atlanta Freeway

Overlooking an Atlanta Freeway

Last week I took about 5,000 images of so many different aspect of life in downtown Atlanta. This one still stands out to me as a metaphor to the pace of life we lead today, This was one of the only times I can remember over the week when the interstate wasn’t bumper to bumper and crawling. I think I have enough traffic and freeway images now to do a photo essay on Atlanta traffic, but that would just be depressing. In this case, we were serving the homeless that lived underneath the freeway bridges where the pace of life is ironically slow.

Graflex Speed Graphic Medium Format Film Camera


Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 LensGraflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens

Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens

If you study the history of photography from it’s first shot through today’s almost incalculable iterations, you will see the art form takes on an enormous range of artistic expressions. I’m actually proud to say I started off in the age of film photography. I know what it’s like to have to be super intentional about the exposure, about getting it right the first or second time because film cost a fortune, and getting it developed cost even more. I also know what it’s like to take a photo and not see the results for a week or more (that was probably the worst part about shooting film back in the day), which made improving as a photographer a slower, more intentional process. Looking back at all that film I shot, I know it helped me tremendously when it comes to shooting in today’s digital world.

My grandad was a photographer as well, and he of course also did all of his work in film, but it wasn’t the 35mm film I grew up shooting, it was a medium format, 4×5 film, and still popular 220 film roll that he used. The one 4×5 negative I still have of his is this self-portrait, taken with the very camera showcased in this post. It was taken back in the 1970’s (when you kept cameras for more than a year or two), back in a time when these were called “self-portraits” not selfies.

I was given his camera a few years ago and took it back out over the weekend. I’m always contemplating giving film a go again, until of course you consider medium format film now is like $40 for 10 sheets it’s hard to pull the trigger. So instead I took it for a spin and made it the subject instead of the shooter. Maybe one day I’ll splurge and shoot some film through this camera, but for now, it’s such a great looking classic view at a little piece of photographic history.


Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 LensGraflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens

Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens


Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 LensGraflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens

Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens


Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 LensGraflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens

Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens


Flash for Graflex Honeywell StrobonarFlash for Graflex Honeywell Strobonar

Flash for Graflex Honeywell Strobonar


Graflex Speed Graphic 220 Film RollersGraflex Speed Graphic 220 Film Rollers

Graflex Speed Graphic 220 Film Rollers


Graflex Speed Graphic 220 Film RollersGraflex Speed Graphic 220 Film Rollers

Graflex Speed Graphic 220 Film Rollers


Alpex Light Meter for Graflex Speed GraphicAlpex Light Meter for Graflex Speed Graphic

Alpex Light Meter for Graflex Speed Graphic


Graflex Speed Graphic Camera CaseGraflex Speed Graphic Camera Case

Graflex Speed Graphic Camera Case