What is it about abandoned properties that is so appealing to some? That they’re typically off-limits? The mystery? The drama? The nontraditional beauty of decay?

Perhaps it’s a combination of all of the above. While they may drag property values down, to the camera they can offer inspirational bounty.

I stopped recently to photograph this sorry exterior at the Lexington Hotel with a fellow who recalls playing a regular gig there over a decade ago. It’s a reminder that no derelict structure is without history.

If I were to open a photography franchise, it might be for Matthew Christopher’s Abandoned America. I’d like to be the local guide and instructor for a walkabout amongst the ruins. I know sites such as the former Catskill Game Farm, where a friend of mine once cared for the critters, have been subject of these photographic workshops.

But – as far as I know, no such business opportunity exists.
If you’re not already familiar with this enterprise/collective/effort, you may be familiar with the work. I think I was probably first turned on to it via links on the weatherchannel’s website which I suppose shares the photos within the context of what weather can do to vacant properties.

Here’s the intro to one such pictorial, from 2015.

“The world is dotted with spectacular destinations shaped by nature and then there are places that are overtaken by nature, left crumbling and decaying in the elements. Here, we take a surreal but fascinating tour of the world’s abandoned places: structures, towns and cities deserted by people because of natural disasters, economic crises and conflict.

In an interview with Living on Earth, Alan Weisman, the author of the bestselling nonfiction book The World Without Us, described what would happen if humans no longer existed. In a house without people, “suddenly no one is there in fighting off mold, keeping the insects out, keeping the mice out, keeping the woodpeckers out, keeping the water out,” Weisman said.”

Rearching this post, I was not surprised to learn that a number of photographers are active in this sphere, including Matt Lambros, who shot the Kings Theatre in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn. This particular theater was renovated and beborn. I mean wow!

Like this theater, efforts are underway to preserve some of the history of the aforementioned game farm perhaps photographing nature’s reclamation can help serve as a reminder of what can happen when neglect is permitted to take root – literally.

So what about workshops? I’d like to lead them. There’s probably room for more – right? Plenty of decay out there.


If you’re in or near the Great Northern Catskills, or would travel here to participate in a guided photo workshop of this sort, drop me a line. If sufficient interest finds me – I’ll work to put something great together.

Thanks for reading & sharing these thoughts. Find Jonathan Ment Photography on Facebook & at www.catskillsphotographer.com You can also read my “business blog” on WordPress

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