Crap + Scrap = Art?

Crap + Scrap = Art?

  • Richard Lewis Photography Airplane and Automotive Graveyard Workshop

Finding Balance in the Unbalanced

Nestled in a corner of the New Jersey Pinelands is a big pile of scrap. Since the 1940’s the local family that owns it has been making their living out of buying and selling scrap metal. When I was offered the opportunity to do photography workshop at their very unusual automotive and aircraft graveyard I had to investigate. If I was expecting to see antique cars and planes lined up in neat rows with just the right amount of rust to make them interesting, this wasn’t it. What there is are 14 acres loaded with a myriad of stuff. Cars, buses, planes, jets, machinery and a lot of other things which occupy almost every square foot.

My first reaction was something along the lines of, “How do you photograph a big pile of crap like this big pile of scrap?” Then I started seeing the photographs. I stopped taking in that big view we landscape photographers often see and started noticing the little compositions. The intimate rusty landscapes among the big rusty landscape. How this old plane part created a leading line to that old car part. How a pile of jet engines looks like a sculpture. I knew I had to lead workshops here!

This place isn’t a junk yard, it’s a training ground for artistic vision. Actually, it’s more like a boot camp for creativity. Come here, you will be challenged and leave here improved. Fortunately, for you, I’ve broken down the experience of photographing this place into a 7 step process.

  1. Shock – Seeing this place for the first time is overwhelming and at first glance (maybe the second and third too) it looks like insurmountable piles of junk.
  2. Regret – You think, “I paid money for this?!?”
  3. Acceptance – You are here so you decide to make the best of it.
  4. Huh? – You start to see how two things create an interesting leading line and how the colors of some other things work so well together.
  5. Vision – You are now playing with camera angles, focusing on the details. You found this really cool thing that looks really neat on that airplane wing.
  6. Shock – What, it’s time to leave????
  7. Joy – You leave with some amazing photographs and realize you also have grown as a photographer.

 

Richard Lewis Photography Airplane and Automotive Graveyard Workshop

Ammo Bus by Richard Lewis 2017

 

Richard Lewis Photography Airplane and Automotive Graveyard Workshop

Car Interior by Richard Lewis 2017

 

Bus 25 by Richard Lewis 2017

 

Richard Lewis Photography Airplane and Automotive Graveyard Workshop

Old Cars by Richard Lewis 2017

 

The Slow Return by Richard Lewis 2017

 

F4 Cockpit by Richard Lewis 2017

 

Ford Truck 40 by Richard Lewis 2017

 

Jet Engines by Richard Lewis 2017

 

Richard Lewis Photography Airplane and Automotive Graveyard Workshop

RB57 Bomber Cockpit by Richard Lewis 2017

 

Richard Lewis Photography Airplane and Automotive Graveyard Workshop

RB57 Bomber by Richard Lewis 2017

 

Richard Lewis Photography Airplane and Automotive Graveyard Workshop

Abandoned Childhood by Richard Lewis 2017

 

Richard Lewis Photography Airplane and Automotive Graveyard Workshop

Car Interior 2 by Richard Lewis 2017

 

Richard Lewis Photography Airplane and Automotive Graveyard Workshop

A Bird Like Car by Richard Lewis 2017

Come here on one of my workshops and you will leave with great photographs and an artistic vision that has grown from being challenged.

Enjoy!

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2018-06-22T08:58:55+00:00June 22nd, 2018|8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Laura (PA Pict) June 22, 2018 at 10:20 am - Reply

    Fabulous photographs, Rich. Your compositions and capture of all the visual textures are superb. I visited a lot of scrapyards as a kid with my Dad, in search of salvagable parts, but none of them were as interesting as this one looks to be. I can see how all of those shapes of the vintage cars would be inspirational for your images.

    • Rich Lewis June 22, 2018 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      Thanks Laura. Nice to hear from you. I’m glad you enjoyed this post and it’s images. This is a pretty amazing place and quite a bit different from the typical scrapyard.

  2. Bonnie Rovere June 22, 2018 at 10:21 am - Reply

    What a wonderful set! Congratulate yourself! The image with the rocking horses almost made me cry! Such a sad ending that must have made a child somewhere so happy!

    • Rich Lewis June 22, 2018 at 9:08 pm - Reply

      Thanks Bonnie. When I found those horses, it was really upsetting. I couldn’t help thinking how these were once a cherished possession of a child.

  3. Ralph Berglund June 22, 2018 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    Well done, Rich. Lemons to lemonade. But, a lot of sadness in each image.

    • Rich Lewis June 22, 2018 at 9:06 pm - Reply

      Thanks Ralph. I do find this place kind of sad and no matter how abstract the images become that sadness seems to still show through.

  4. jane palmer June 23, 2018 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    Rich, these are beautiful images and I love the story! We are on such a similar trajectory, I chuckled when I realized you just wrote a blog post about finding inspiration in old cars!! I spent 2 days photographing old cars while in The Palouse last week, and I planned to write a post about my experience, going from “you want me to photograph THIS??!” to “it can’t be time to leave already!!!” Your thoughts expressed here are exactly like what I experienced! It was fun to be met with such a challenge, totally not understanding what in the world to do with old cars, and then finding art in the old rust and wondering about all the stories that were right there in those old vehicles.
    Thanks for sharing your experience, I knew I liked you–just didn’t realize we were SO much alike!!

    Jane

    • Rich Lewis June 24, 2018 at 7:12 am - Reply

      Thanks Jane. It’s a funny thing how we grow, and seemingly on the same path. 5 years ago I wouldn’t go near anything like this. Inspired by friends, I started seeing there were stories to honor in old and abandoned buildings and places. That led to the Abandonment Project that has been going on in parallel to my landscape work. Throw in a place like this “graveyard” and photography gets even more interesting. It is not just the artistic opportunity here, it’s also the mix of stories that need to be sorted out along with the compositions. Who would have thought that what some people call a junkyard is actually a treasure trove of American history? I’ve held several workshops there, it is still very intriguing. I look forward to your post.

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