The Ozarks: Abandoned

Living in The Ozarks has been key to my development as an artist. The color, seasons, textures and characters of The Ozark Mountains makes it all come together.

It’s history and it’s people are what inspire me. Photo journalism is my focus, if you are looking for senior, wedding or baby pictures you might as well continue searching for another photographer.

Simple pleasures and the mysterious power that lures people to the land. Nothing is more satisfying than a newly turned field in early spring, fresh cut hay on a summer day or the smell of apple butter cooking in the fall.

In this post I’ll introduce you to “My Ozarks” they are small, out-of-the-way places, back road villages or one horse towns . The people who live here have opted to live differently. Small town residents worry about everything from school closings and their children’s futures to the slipping of the local economy.

The fragility of our communities in small towns is evident as you can see in these images. Some are blighted, while in other areas nearby the economy is booming. Making us question “what happened here”?

There are factory workers, barbers, small business owners, retirees, teachers, farmers, clergy, and mayors all who depend on the smallest things to hold these communities together all the while dealing with things such as the opioid epidemic.

Down at The Corner Cafe they are having their coffee about now, discussing the daily special or who fed the cats.

The End to the Means.

I first found myself staring at the ruins of an old home in an uninhabited town, I thought post-apocalyptic! It’s a vision of a horror story. However in certain cases they make me curious as to the backstory. But that’s not what keeps me searching for modern ruins, and it’s not the sole reason I devote so much time to finding and documenting these vanishing forgotten buildings.

Heck, they are so compelling! Of course, there’s an aesthetic to decaying buildings, an opportunity to enjoy these buildings when I stumble upon them. After all those who came before me enjoyed them in their day, why not me, why not now.

These ruins still contain promises of the unexpected. They have served their original purpose but now, for me, it’s the possibility of some weird encounter. The seemingly impossible find of a forgotten treasure or a captured moment.

It all allows for my imagination to go wild and the images allow for your own interpretation. In some strange way it’s all unencumbered repurposing.

Just a note to my fellow photographers who like to shoot cemeteries…Avoiding stepping on a grave. Ozarks Legend has it if a hillman happens to tread upon a grave, he is supposed to jump backward across it immediately, as otherwise a member of his family will die, according to the old-timers.

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