Bleached planks of wood, loosely shod stairs and rattling window frames.
These are the features that I’ve been immersing myself in for the last few months.
When I was first approached to produce a series of photographs based around the abandoned homes of Midwestern America I initially turned the offer down. This, after all, isn’t the kind of work that I usually do. The majority of the travelling jobs that I am wont to take on will usually whisk me away to glamorous metropolitan city, where I’ll have the opportunity of immersing myself in a vibrant culture and photographing a stunning (usually modern) home. These are the kinds of jobs that I made my name on – they appeal to my taste in lifestyle and they pay well.
This was why I was distinctly surprised when I found myself wandering through the Shoshone National Forest in late-March, in search of an abandoned 19th Century fishing shack.
I’d heard about this curious place from a drunk lorry driver in a dive bar the night before and it had sounded like just the kind of place that I had been charged with seeking out. ‘Dilapidated, sorrowful, forgotten,’ the man had slurred his words, letting them bleed together slowly, allowing them to roll around his mouth along with the whisky that he’d forgotten to drink.
This was the first real character that I’d met during my stay in the Mid West. I’d flown out to Cody without any kind of real plan. My brief was to find abandoned homes, places that exhibited zero signs of habitation – forgotten places – as my would-be guide had said. Of course, simply try Googling ‘abandoned houses’ and you’ll find a tonne of great examples have already been discovered, part of my brief was to find shacks that had yet to be photographed – it was this challenge that attracted me to the job.
The 6-hour time difference when I landed had significantly hampered the start to my trip.
I had initially planned to get going straight away and start interviewing local people for some hints, but the resultant jet lag had pulled me into a slump that continued to plague me for 5 days. I had months to complete my assignment and my expenses were being paid for – so why not spend a few days readjusting my circadian rhythm and getting to know the local area?
Cody is a city by name, but with a population of under 10,000, it has more of a small town feeling. Despite this small population, the city is still served by it’s own airport and with the Yellowstone National Park less than an hour’s drive away the streets are consistently busy with campers, hikers and tourists. Instead of diving straight into work, like I would usually do, I decided to slowly integrate myself into the community so I could discover the kind of abandoned homes that deserved to be a part of my new collection.