Behind The Food Lion

I have an annoying habit of telling people, “Good images are everywhere and anywhere—hey—I could climb inside a dumpster and find good pictures.” (I suspect some people find it a bit self-promoting.)

Money was a bit tight in this household last summer so instead of driving around burning gas I decided to look for interesting images closer to home and also decided to see if I could “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk,” by going after dumpster pictures.

Alleys, back streets and the areas behind buildings—the places not intended for public view—have always fascinated me. These areas seem more interesting, more honest and have more of a story as opposed to the shiny, made-up public veneers.

There’s this chain grocery store that is something of a neighborhood center in this community a short distance from my house. I went there to explore the outsides of this structure. The empty expanse of a large, windowless side wall brought to mind minimalist photographs I’ve admired. An empty, solitary bench in the midst of this wall—to me—symbolized an artificial, human-constructed emptiness existing paradoxically under the endless sky (or universe) of the creator—emptiness under endlessness. There is something in our nature that seeks out loneliness.

As I was shooting this symbol of human-kind’s affinity for isolation, a store employee came out a side entrance and began walking back and forth along the empty wall—getting some exercise on his lunch hour apparently. A shot of his sad, shuffling, goalless journey was an easy metaphor for the self-created loneliness many of us seem to embrace.

I studied and photographed several dumpsters and their immediate surroundings—intriguing details, lines, forms, textures. These containers for what is not wanted—sit with accepting indifference behind much larger containers for what is wanted—waiting for us to use and throw away, use and throw away—back & forth kind of like the exercising employee.

Behind a nearby strip mall I found junk—more things discarded—right next to the delivery entrances where trucks unload things that are wanted into the big containers (stores) so people can buy, then throw away and buy again. I took more photographs that hopefully convey this human trait of obtaining—to fill a need—or emptiness, then discarding.

I noticed a workman on the roof of the strip mall watching me. I could sense the post-911 paranoia. He was probably thinking negative stuff like, “Why is this suspicious old guy photographing the back of the building?

He probably hadn’t heard—good pictures can be found anywhere.

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