I Stand Alone
In 2009 I began documenting row homes in Philly that used to have neighbors but now stand alone. In a way these buildings have just as much character as the characters I meet on my travels. They all come with their own story, their own history, they come in all shapes, sizes and colors, and they have all survived the trials and tribulations life has thrown their way. Even though everything has crumbled around them they still seem like proud structures, comfortable in their own skin. The detail and craftsmanship in some of these houses is absolutely amazing but it's also something that is disappearing more and more as neighborhoods gentrify and new houses go up.
Capturing these beauties isn't easy though. There are a few factors that go into being able to get just the right photo. Unfortunately these houses reside in some pretty sketchy neighborhoods so taking photos of them can be a bit of a chess match. I roll around these neighborhoods rubber necking left and right in search of these little, ghetto gems and it definitely doesn't go unrecognized. People are often skeptical especially after seeing me roll past the same block multiple times so I need to be precise in my exploration attempts. It doesn't matter that I have 2 dogs hanging out of the back windows of my car. They often get barked back at. Some people even look at me and tell me I don't belong or shouldn't be there. But I can't help it. I'm drawn to dilapidation and decay. I'm not trying to impede on anyone's turf, I'm not a realtor or developer which I often get mistaken for, nor am I a narc. . . I'm just trying to take photos for the mere sake of taking photos.
More times than not there are too many people hangin out on the block to get out and start taking photos. Most of these neighborhoods don't take too kindly to strangers taking photos. And If I'm lucky enough to get a quiet block there can't be any cars out front of the house, it has to be a certain time of the day which also depends on the season, and there has to be good cloud coverage. Rarely do all of those things occur in one day! Most of the houses I have captured literally had to be visited dozens of times before I was able to get a photo I was satisfied with. In a few cases they literally took me years. A few of the houses I had the pleasure of shooting unfortunately do not exist anymore and as neighborhoods change the other houses in this series are in danger of the same fate. This history is disappearing right before our eyes and we're letting it happen. I know I'm not the 1st person to do a series on these stand alone row houses and I won't be the last. But I'd like to at least aid in the documentation of the ones I see in the city I grew up in. These photos will live on as a homage to the times when these houses stood proud and tall. Standing together and then eventually alone. . . survivor of the oldest tribe.