I decided to get off the mainstream wagon and search for modest streams with great and unique photos. Not that I think my photos are great and unique but, you have to do things differently in order to get different results. I just want to go back to the basics. Honestly, I’m tired of kayak on a lake and feet sticking out of a van photos. I mean, it’s all good photography but when you see the same thing over and over again, it becomes boring.
Among the urbex/abandoned community on Instagram, I try to look for photographers who do it well, and have a personal style that’s recognizable. James Joyner is one of my favorites, and we’ve collaborated in the past on each other’s work. Jimmy’s style has really grown into its own, and I love seeing the locations he finds on his adventures.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is James Joyner and I’m a radiological aide at a local hospital in Maryland, USA.
How did you get started in photography?
My parents got me my first “real” camera, a Nikon 35mm N2000, back when I was a junior in high school, where I first started really learning how to compose photos and work the controls. For my high school grad gift, I got myself my first DSLR, a Nikon D60, where I really started coming into my own and learning what I liked to photograph.
What do you like about your photography?
That’s a tough one… I guess if I were a third party looking at my photography, I’d say that I really liked the way I try to channel a scene’s darker side. I’ve always been a fan of darker styles of photography… I believe the shadows can add to a photo just as much as the light does (if not, more). In a sense, I like to work the lighting in a scene to enhance the darkness.
I’d also say that I really like that I shoot abandonment, but in the context of the surrounding landscape and scenery. I think there’s a deeper and a sadder story to tell about an abandoned house when you add elements such as the sky and the overgrowing grass around it.
Where do you get inspiration for your style/ideas?
I get my inspiration for my style and ideas primarily from the music I listen to, films/shows I love, and from other artists whose work I follow on Instagram.
Films/shows that really inspire my work include ones like I Am Legend, The Road, War of the Worlds, The Walking Dead, and other post-apocalyptic pieces such as those. I have a huge obsession with that genre… Sometimes when I’m editing a photo I’ll think something like, “I want this house to look like a scene straight out of The Walking Dead. I want the viewers mind to race when looking at this house, thinking thoughts such as ‘what happened here? Is there anything lurking in those shadows? Is there something written in blood on the walls inside that house somewhere?’” I want to create those thoughts in people’s heads.
Your work focuses on on a lot of spooky situations and abandoned properties. What excites you about shooting in these situations?
The story behind why a place is abandoned. The unknown of what I’ll find upon investigation of the place. Getting that ONE shot that makes the entire shoot worth doing. Getting caught by either the angry owner/the police on a property for which I haven’t necessarily gotten permission to shoot. All things that are racing through my mind while on shoots.
Honestly that latter thought tends to occupy my mind a little more than I’d prefer… but that’s all part of the game. It makes getting that one beautiful shot all the more rewarding.
What kinds of themes do you like to explore with your work?
The major theme I like to explore is Life After Humans. The History channel did an entire series on what happens on a grander scale if people were to vanish tomorrow, and I like to channel that on a little bit more personal level with my work.
Any upcoming projects or shoots you’re working on?
I’m working on a project at the moment for a @pr0ject_uno story takeover on Instagram. They have been doing it with some amazing artists so far, and it’s an absolute honor that they thought of me for this. My theme is going to be rural abandonment. Make sure to keep an eye on their account and their story for the takeover!
As for shoots… that’s the part that’s so cool about shooting abandonment the way I do. New shoots present themselves every time I go out and randomly drive around or explore a new spot. It could be tomorrow that I find the coolest house I’ve ever come across.
There’s an abandoned middle school I plan on hitting soon very close by… I just got a brand new Sigma 20mm Art lens, so that will be my saving grace inside that place.
Since early autumn, my family has been house shopping.
Part of house shopping is seeing many, many kinds of houses, in all shapes, and in all kinds of conditions. Strolling through some of these houses, you see some very interesting things – in fact, there may be no deeper view into American culture and eccentricities than someone’s home.
I’m also paying attention to light. In our current home, the light is great – very airy and open. In our next house, I want to make sure it’ll photograph well. As I see neat lighting situations in these houses, I’m capturing those.
This is not a rage quit. It’s the product of a lot of small, quiet frustrations that leave me thinking I can spend my time doing other things.
It’s not a new revelation, and Lord knows I’m not the first to discover social media is a waste of time. But as I get older, and I have friends and family, and projects to do around the house, and little patience for the increasing amount of (mostly irrelevant) ads blinking in my face, the less appealing all these “What are you up to?” platforms become.
I still enjoy my quiet little corner of Twitter, with my Mac nerds and fellow photographers. And I still dig the work people post on Flickr. I’ve set up my social media accounts to show me mostly stuff and people I’m interested in. It’s just that more and more on those other platforms, advertising and “features” are intruding. To what benefit?
As Jörg Colberg writes, “If you’re happy with being a passenger and with having to change vehicles usually the moment you’ve become a bit comfortable, then stick with Silicon Valley’s boom-and-bust cycle. If that’s not what you want, going back to blogging is likely to give you a lot more agency.”
So here I am, with a relaunched blog, away from Tumblr.
Another problem is that marketers and brands have gotten a hold of these sites and used them for marketing. I think a lot of the marketing world is waking up to the realization that social media isn’t the be-all, end-all marketing channel for the modern consumer. If anything, people switch social media platforms to escape the ads and intrusiveness. I should know: I’m one of those people using social media to “engage” with customers and visitors – but I don’t do it with a clear conscience, because I hate seeing all that “engagement” crap, too.
It’s tough feeling like you can’t get your stuff out there to be seen without social media, and yet being uncomfortable with the idea of using social media at all. I’m a pretty private person, and I feel weird every time I try to promote something on Facebook, Twitter, etc. As a photographer, it’s a Catch 22.
I don’t have any answers right now. The trick is finding the mix that works, and that’s a work in progress.
You may be surprised to learn that people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds. As Instagram has grown, it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. This means you often don’t see the posts you might care about the most.
To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.
The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.
If your favorite musician shares a video from last night’s concert, it will be waiting for you when you wake up, no matter how many accounts you follow or what time zone you live in. And when your best friend posts a photo of her new puppy, you won’t miss it.
We’re going to take time to get this right and listen to your feedback along the way. You’ll see this new experience in the coming months.
Terrible. I’m so sick of this we’ll-decide-what-you’ll-see algorithm crap.
My name is Kathryn Trattner and I write and photograph things. I work full time for the Metropolitan Library, my local library system in Oklahoma City, and when I’m not second shooting I spend the rest of my free time with my two toddlers.
How did you get started in photography?
I started taking photography seriously about a year ago. A very dear friend (@robynicks) is a talented wedding photographer and she needed an assistant. I volunteered and loved it. It’s so amazing to be included in someone’s big day, to see everything come together, and Robyn is amazing and fun to work with. Over time assisting became second shooting, I bought a DSLR, and photography has taken over my life. In a good way.
What do you like about your photography?
I love the details. I make a point of noticing them because so often they’re the first things I forget. I tend to get lost in the big picture stuff so it’s nice to take a moment and notice something that might otherwise be overlooked. Especially at weddings, you remember the faces and the main event, but it’s easy to forget how the flowers looked or the lace on a dress. Those little things add a layer of richness to memory.
Right now I have a three and one year old and I’m constantly taking pictures of their hands or feet, photos of them sitting with their backs to me. I’m always going to remember the big things, like the first tooth or first steps, but the way their hair curled just the tiniest bit after a bath, the little hands no bigger than my palm, I don’t want to forget those either.
You describe your work as capturing details, and little slices of life. Where do you get inspiration for your style/ideas?
Everywhere. I feel like I’m constantly taking pictures in my head, even when I don’t have my iPhone or DSLR handy. Anything and everything can be beautiful or interesting or arresting.
Why is it important for you to capture your surroundings?
Part of my obsession with details in my desire to always add another layer to my writing. I need to be able to paint a picture with words and photographing details feeds my writing. It’s also a nice escape when I’ve sat too long at my computer and it feels like my brain has turned to mush.
What kinds of themes do you explore with your work?
I’m not sure there are any themes to my work. Maybe someone outside looking in would see a pattern but for me there isn’t one.
Any upcoming projects or shoots you’re working on?
Over the next year I’ll be second shooting lots of weddings and special events. But the biggest thing I’m excited about personally is my upcoming trip to San Francisco. I’m so excited to photograph a city so different from the one I live in.
I’m coming up on my 2,000th Instagram photo, and it’s got me thinking about what is my favorite social media platform.
It’s really fun to experiment with mobile photo making, and see the work of other great Instagram photographers. Every day, I think about making good photos for Instagram, and sharing them for the world to see. It’s like a 365 project, even though there are days wen I don’t post (usually the weekend) – thought I post multiple times per day, which kind of makes up for it.
Instagram helps me experiment with photo styles, moods, and subjects. I was never really a landscape guy, until my commute inspired me to share the rural countryside I see every day. And going back and seeing my old stuff (I’ve been using Instagram since January 2011)? It’s rough, but you can see the growth.
What’s nice about Instagram is, there’s no social pressure. Yes, I follow some friends and family members. But the majority of photographers I follow are people I’ve never met. That’s the fun part. Like Twitter, I get to interact with people who are mostly strangers.
Inspiration through photos is a function of interests, not your social connections. Chase what inspires you. Be true to yourself, and inspire others with who you are.
His point: don’t feel bad about not following people you know in real life.
My own quick-read tips:
If someone follows you, check out their profile. Like their photos? Follow them back. Don’t like their photos? Don’t.
See if a photographer shares different stuff on his/her Instagram than, say, Flickr or Tumblr.
I’m still a stickler for mobile-only photos (#iphoneonly!). Call me Old Fashioned.
Hashtags are a good way to (a) be found and (b) find stuff you’re into. Follow your #furry or #abandoned passions. Just, for Pete’s sake, don’t inappropriately tag your photos (#sunset on a non-sunset photo, for instance)
Comment on photos you really like. But say what you like about it. Be specific and generous.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with styles. In time, you’ll develop your own signature style. It took me a long time to find my groove.