My heart’s like an open book, for the whole world to read, sometimes nothing keeps me together at the seams. I’m on my way, home sweet home –
lyrics to Mötley Crüe’s Home Sweet Home.
Life takes you to surprising places, but love carries you home – the ideal. Frequently, I am overwhelmed with a strong sense of sadness and loneliness when I explore abandoned homes because I believe in the “home sweet home” ideal. I often encounter so many personal items strewn about inside forlorn homes—possessions that were once treasures to the owner. Sometimes, I only need to photograph the rooms of abandoned houses with an emphasis on small details of interest to tell a story about the experience. I never become comfortable, however, with witnessing so many artifacts in all corners of the house, not claimed by family members or friends—just left behind.
While in an abandoned home, I never focus too much on private letters, photo albums, or notes, nor do I look in drawers, because such intimacy should be off-limits to a stranger. In some homes, however, there is far too much to see, not to be curious or stunned with emotion. I almost always grab glances of postmarks on envelopes, dates of canceled checks on top of desks, or wall calendars to assess the approximate time of abandonment. I do not stage items for a photograph, and often I see evidence of prior urban explorations via the staging of objects or even furniture. I hope that a viewer of my images understands somewhat why I do what I do and perhaps embrace the melancholy I carry with me as I photograph a derelict home. In my eye, abandoned homes often appear gripped by loneliness. I sense the grief of lost dreams. What happened? Why was this home left to the elements, vandals, or even urban explorers? I usually am unable to envision anything but devastated lives in such spaces. These homes must have held so many special memories, good and bad, but now the souvenirs of life are discarded and forgotten. No matter their shape or size, houses are symbolic of the things we love, the people we are, the hobbies we enjoy. Our homes are extensions of us. These empty houses no longer contain the life they once held, but they loudly echo lives left behind.