Abandoned Houses and Inspiration


What inspires me, what keeps me motivated? Change.

I once walked away from a subject thinking “I will photograph this later, there is no time right now.”  Later came and the subject was different, the light had shifted, it had rained, the sun had disappeared.  Disappointed, I promised myself it would never happen again... Except it did: again and again.

I have spent a better part of the last four years photographing and exploring abandoned houses.  It began by curiosity, peaked by abandoned houses near the area where I grew up. They were in a constant state of change.  I was watching them fall further into the ground, as they suffered the effects of mother nature and time. I was curious about what they looked like inside, their story and more importantly why? I wanted to document the changes that occur when something is not maintained, left to the effects of time and our world. I wanted to know why someone would leave their home and not return.

Photograph by Peter Dubee

I passed up an opportunity to photograph one of these houses, telling myself “I will photograph it later”. The house burnt down, lost forever. I could not step back and recreate what was once there.  It was then I realized I had to be in the moment. Later would not cut it.

After that I decided to start focusing my attention on a small group of houses that I knew I could easily access. I started to document them. Returning at different intervals. My motivation comes from different things:

  1. The feeling of loss that I retained from the burnt house.
  2. The fact that every time I return somewhere there will be something different from the last.  
  3. The story of each house, the fact that it was once a home. 

I always wonder about the people who lived there, the infants who grew into adults, the adults who grew old. The kind of lives these people led, and their experiences within those walls. I wonder how a house looked when it was first built, wondered at the changes it endured over time. Each house has its own definitive characteristics and a story to tell. If there was a way to give these houses a voice, I am sure their history would be comparable to the story of someones life.

Photograph by Peter Dubee

My motivation to continue photographing these houses grows and changes with them.  When I was a child I believed that nothing would change and everything would be the same when I was an adult.  As an adult I have come to see that the world around me is in a constant state of growth. When you least expect it your whole world can be turned upside down. It is with this knowledge that I continue to document the world around me. I focus on abandoned houses, building a record of their disintegration. Something I can look back on and see the progression, the change.  Using ‘Later” as an excuse has not happened in quite a while now. I simply remind myself of the houses.   

Is there a little piece of the world that keeps you going? What motivates you?