Rural Decay Exploration, Structure 1.100

Rural Decay Structure 1.166

Abandon one room house in the woods on a rainy day

Perhaps a little known fact about me is I really love the unique beauty of urban decay. In the south, as is the case virtually all over the world, you see abandon buildings, houses, and various different structures that are being reclaimed by nature. You’ve heard of “urban decay photography,” sometimes referred to as urban exploration, urbex, or UE, which is the exploration of those various places, but you rarely hear of “rural decay” exploration. Probably because most people don’t live in the rural backwoods of wherever, they live in the city.

For those of us who do spend most of our days in the rural south, little abandon houses, barns, sheds, and all kinds of structures are literally everywhere. Sometimes you have to look pretty hard because they have been completely reclaimed by the trees like the first image above. Barely visible from the road, it was probably once a small house sitting on the road on the way to town. Today it’s being consumed by the land.

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Don’t Worry the Revival is Canceled on Church Signs of the Week

It’s Friday, and since we didn’t go anywhere exciting today other than to drive over to Columbus, my Friday Feet pic is rather boring, but there were some “great” church signs along the way as usual.

I have a pretty additive habit-hobby of church sign reading, sometimes it’s just like train wreck TV, you just can’t turn away. It is, at least in the south, a method of communication for local churches, and for Christianity in general (a very very broad range version of general). Since we spend so much time contemplating, discussing, and meeting about communication in our staff meetings at my own church I have no doubt that many of the church signs I see and read are not accidental. Church signs represent as broad a range of Christianity as their are Christians, and it shows. I just wonder if they at least think about the greater message they are presenting to the drive-by sign reader. I’m sure not everyone reads every single church sign they drive by like I do, but still, what message are you trying to communicate to the casual non-church-goer reading your sign? I have nothing against any of these churches of course, I’m sure their all great churches… but the last 2-3 weeks I have driven by this one church they have had two different, negative signs, which drives me nuts, but I’m not on their communication team, so oh well.

A Graveyard Tells a Unique Story in History :: Photos

Don’t know how your week has been but my week has been so busy that today was the first day I actually had a chance to get these photos posted from my shoot last weekend.

I love doing a photowalk through local graveyards. Here in Alabama (and I guess everywhere) we have these small family graveyards dotted all around the area. Each one tells an incredible story, and the stories often span a historical period of hundreds of years. This may sound strange to some but they are almost always quiet, peaceful places where traffic is light and little has changed over the decades and time just seems to slow down when you walk through.

This graveyard is real close to my house and is typical of the local family graveyards around our area. There are almost as many infants, babies, and youth in this spot as there are adults. Most of the smallest graves are unmarked and very old at this point. The earliest birth year here was late 1600’s so this little tract has been in this one family, sitting just like this, for over 300 years. There are a lot of houses in our area that were built around the Civil War era, and this spot has a tiny little building/house/shack on it. I try to image who would have lived in this little building, which is smaller than the smallest room in my house.

Each one is different, each one tells a different story.

Alabama Rural Ministries Make a Difference Day :: Photos

Make a Difference Day with ARM

Make a Difference Day was this past Saturday which was a mission work day on several houses in the rural Alabama area.  A group of volunteers from our church sponsored work on one of the houses and everyone was blessed to be around and help a family in Hurtsboro.   According to Alabama Rural Ministries:

In all, you worked on five homes and one group helped with renovations at a site where we house work teams. You were spread out from Hurstsboro into Loachopoka. We had 55 people working for a total of 275 work hours. Pretty incredible.

Pretty incredible indeed.  For most of us, we did what we do best.  I tried to document the day through images, Josh opened his ears and intently listened to the Randolph’s life (while his son entertained), and Andi and a bunch of volunteers labored.  To read more details about the day, please jump over to Andi’s blog see her post, Make a Difference Day. I tried to just pick one image that would tell the story but could only narrow it down to three images (see my previous rant called How to Tell a Story with a Series of Photos or Make Conclusions with a Snapshot.  Which one is your favorite?  Which one tells the story the best?

To see the entire shoot, go to the Make a Difference Day gallery.

Make a Difference Day with ARM

Make a Difference Day with ARM

Make a Difference Day with ARM

After we left on Saturday questions started flooding my mind, especially with the title for the day.  Did we “make a difference”?, but it was more than that.  What did the Randolph’s who owned this house think about this bunch of white people (I say that as a matter of fact, yes, we are white) that invaded their home, dirtied up their house, showed up with tools from Home Depot that cost more than their car and watched a guy holding a camera the size of a bazooka snapping shots all over the place (I couldn’t imagine someone coming into my house and just shooting at will).

Was Christ represented, did His light show through us, and did we, through our Lord, make a difference in the Randolph’s life?  Did we judge them for how they live because they appear to live a different life than most of us here in Auburn?

Part of the problem and the flaw in my thinking is how I looked at the house, and the family members it represented, and that was from an earthly perspective.  What we here in this country hold dear, the material items, what can we buy to make our lives better, will fade away some day, and we will be left with the same soul we came into this world with and nothing else.  The Randolph’s were gracious, kind, and happy to be living in a quiet peaceful area of Alabama, with almost none of the things us city folks expect as part of our standard of living, and I thank them for blessing me on Saturday by inviting me into their home.

Let me know which image you think represents the day the best.  Perhaps none of them, but I really think the first image needs a caption in the comments… “ever get the feeling you are surrounded”.

Helping Alabama Rural Ministries Building a New Deck

Daughter and her kitten

Getting ready to use the hammer

Power saw for cutting wood

Today I went to shoot some of the youth working with the Alabama Rural Ministries (ARM), where they were working to build a deck and wheelchair ramp for a house a little ways outside Auburn. I realized when I got there that I had the easy job, to shoot the action.

The rest of the group was digging holes in the ground for a foundation beams and putting up deck supports. The project will be completed by the Alabama Rural Ministries people, the Cornerstone youth were there today to help, and help they did in a big way.

The first image is the daughter of the house who’s cat just had kittens and she was holding one of them in the shade while she watched the workers go about their business. I love the expression on her face. Both the mother and the daughter were the kindest people, they both even put up with me taking their photograph.

You can see the final edit of the shoot here. Photographically, this was one of the best groups of kids I have had a chance to shoot in a while. Everyone was so happy to be there and working and it showed in their faces.