Entry 3: Evading arrest in the Midwest

Sometime after I got my license when I was 17 I began driving around the state.  A lot.  This is when my love for exploring really began.  Before this I never really was one for long car rides and kind of rolled my eyes at the idea of driving a mere 45 minutes to the beach with my parents.  But, once I had a car of my own and I had the freedom to go wherever I pleased this all changed.  For one reason or another I was immediately drawn to photograph in places where I really shouldn't be.  Was it restricted? Perfect.  Abandoned? Even better!

Flash forward a few years and I was traveling on other photography work, to a city that I was extremely excited to visit.  I knew that where I was going was practically a mecca for abandoned buildings of every kind, so I began to do some research on where I wanted to visit during my stay.  I soon found out that there was an abandoned football stadium, and I'm not talking about a high school football stadium here, rather a professional NFL stadium.  Not only did it hold sporting events, but bands such as The Who sold out the 80,000 seat venue in it's heyday.  "An abandoned football stadium," I thought to myself - I had to see it.  

After finishing up my real work, I met up with my friends Taylor in Pierson who were my partners in crime for this adventure.  It was a warm Saturday in mid May when we took the thirty minute Uber ride to the site of the colossal abandonment.  Thankfully there was a soccer practice taking place on a field adjacent to the stadium, so it didn't look too strange that we asked to be dropped off here.  As we approached the structure everything seemed almost too good to be true - no one around, front gate wide open, and a beautiful day.  Before I knew it we were inside the stadium with little effort and walked down the first section of seats by the field.  I snapped away as we walked from section to section before we decided to head up to the top to get some shots showing the real scale of the place.  

As we were completing our loop around the outer edge of the stadium, Pierson grabbed my camera to take a shot of me standing on top of the jumbotron.  Suddenly a puzzled look crossed his face before him saying, "other people are here."  I turned around and sure enough on the opposite side of the stadium there were three uniformed men yelling at us.  Quickly we got off the jumbotron to get out of sight.  My mind raced as I tried to devise a plan on what we should do next.  My initial reaction was to get the heck out of the stadium as quickly as possible, but then it dawned on me that a football stadium is really just a few big circles so leaving without being spotted was close to impossible.  

I took the closest door I could find and we were led down a short corridor where we found a small closet that fit the three of us comfortably.  "30 minutes," I said, as I started my phone's timer.  We sat in silence and around the 29 minute mark was when we began to hear footsteps on the other side of the wall.  My heart was in my throat, I was in another state, it was Mothers Day, and I was going to be arrested.  Surely not a call my mom was going to be too happy with.  After a few minutes the footsteps faded as we sat in the darkness.  "We're not going anywhere until sunset," I whispered.  And there we sat for the next 2 hours 4 minutes and 30 seconds.

While it was not completely dark out yet, the sun was low enough to make the stadium at least decently dim enough were we felt comfortable coming out of hiding.  I hadn't heard our search party in quite some time so I kept my fingers crossed that they had given up their hunt.  We made our way around the stadium to one of the main staircases that would put us near where our point of entry was.  We tiptoed down the stairs and within a few minutes we were on the outside of the stadium again.  Still weary of our surroundings, we poked our head out from the bushes making sure no one was in sight before we made our final escape to the street.  When we finally made it to the sidewalk along the road, we began to give each other high-fives and immediately began to recount the past few hours.  There was smiles all around knowing that we were out of harms away.  

Today, the stadium is currently in the process of being demolished to make way for a new development.  Although what at first seemed to be a simple explore turned into a nerve wracking few hours, I'm happy that I got to see it for myself, knowing that I was one of the last people to ever set foot there.   

Entry 2: Chasing Waterfalls with Jaclyn

I first met Jaclyn Fleurant at some point in 2013, at the time I was a senior in high school and she was in her sophomore year of college.  I was beginning to become good friends and spending a lot of with Jaclyn's brother, Jon, who was starting to get into photography.  Somewhere along the line Jaclyn and I became good friends and started taking pictures together occasionally in our free time for fun until she began a fashion blog, Her Wearabouts.  

Flash forward to 2016, Jaclyn and I hadn't seen each other for close to half a year due to school as well as her spending a good part of the winter in Florida.  After coming back to New Jersey, Jaclyn asked if we could shoot together as she had just gotten some new clothes from a brand called Wish You Were Northwest.  From the name I immediately knew where I wanted to take these pictures.  Every now and then I would run into photos of this giant waterfall located somewhere in Upstate New York that looks right out of the Pacific North West.  

At 5am my friend Josh picked me up and we headed west to pickup Jaclyn.  From there we made a quick stopover in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to pick up our friend Jacob and Emily and from there we were off.  Close to five hours later we finally reached the falls.  I feared that the state park that encompassed the falls would be packed since it was one of the first really warm days of the year and my photographs would be tainted with tourists in the background.  Fortunately, due to some miracle, we ended up being the only ones there that day! 

After a quick half mile hike through the woods we reached the falls were we all began snapping away, admiring the beauty all around us.  Josh took out his drone and began flying around getting all kinds of cool aerial shots and I took Jaclyn out into the middle of the river on the rocks and began shooting away.  As we concluded we walked back onto the bridge and noticed a man meditating on a rock in the middle of the river a bit down stream, which was half cool and half hilarious to see.  

We wrapped up our day eating pizza in the nearby town before starting the five hour trek back home.  

Entry 1: Isabel's Farm House

There's a ghost town in New Jersey, something that surprises almost everyone that I tell, and me too when I first discovered it.  When I have thought of a ghost town for the past twenty years of my life my thoughts were immediately drawn to the west, probably somewhere near Death Valley in California where the town's inhabitance have been replaced with feet of sand.  The structures there are probably three-quarters visible with the occasional tumbleweed running down the barely recognizable street. 

It turns out that instead I have been driving past one for almost my whole life. At a four-way-stop my family had always taken the right turn to go visit my aunt and uncles house for the holidays, it turns out if I would have kept going straight on that road I would have run into New Jersey's own ghost town much sooner.  

While much of the town is pretty beat up and well traveled through after close to half a century of being left to rot, but if you venture a little deeper into the woods there are some incredible spaces that look like the owners had just moved out of yesterday.  That was the set for this shoot with Isabel.  I had met Isabel for the first time just a week earlier when I heard my friend Steve was in town and I met up with him at a local restaurant. Steve and his friend Jesse were in town photographing Isabel who turns out to only lives five minutes from my house.  

On a Friday after school Isabel, Steve, Jesse, and I got together and headed to a house on the outskirts of the ghost town that was covered in beautiful wallpaper.  Each room was unique, making for endless possibilities.  This was my first time to this house, I quickly wondered around from room to room to see what the house had in store while my mind raced with possibilities.  

Isabel had to be home by 7 since she was going on vacation for the weekend so we had to cut our shoot short and head home.  On the way back to Steve's house where I left my car I told him that I knew of an abandoned house that had two pianos inside that I hadn't been to in a few years only a few minutes out of the way.  While the house was on a fairly busy road, I knew of this dirt road that brings you around back of the house.  As we turned the corner we were greeted by two pickup trucks blocking the road with a paper target placed up against a wall of sand.  A moment later a man walked out from in front of one of the pickups with an assault rifle strapped around his chest.  He politely told us we were on private property and Steve turned the car around. While stopped at the end of the road waiting to make a right turn we heard a hail of gunfire coming from down the road.  Needless to say we didn't get to explore the house that day.  

Here are some of my favorite images from the day, enjoy!

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