Photographing the Same Thing Over and Over
I was born in Houston, Texas.
That’s a long way from where I now live in New Jersey.
Never in a million years growing up did I think I’d live on the east coast.
But that’s where I am.
Most kids from Texas don’t aspire to move to the east coast…. because if you’ve never been up here, it’s hard to imagine how so many people can find happiness so close together.
Because of the 2008 recession, I ended up taking a job on the east coast in that year and moved to Jersey City, NJ in 2009.
The first couple of years here in New Jersey were hard on me.
Yet, I survived the move, the adjustments to driving style, and learning to “go right to go left” when navigating in traffic.
Jersey City Living & Photography
Growing up in a semi-small, college town in north Texas and spending my summers fishing, swimming and water skiing at a lake house in south eastern Oklahoma, I never had thought about crime or break-ins.
My apartment in Jersey City was in an area called “the island” on Waldo Ave.
It was on a ridge just above a very old cemetery – one where they supposedly shot some Sopranos tv show scenes.
My street was a mix of pre-war old school apartment buildings, 2 family homes, and 1970’s aesthetically unpleasing homes.
At the end of the block, if you strain your eyes to peer around the chain link fence, you can see the Statue of Liberty.
My apartment was not too large, just big enough for two people and a couple of pets.
The bedrooms were on the back side of the house, facing NYC.
Even though the windows were about 8 feet off the ground from the landlord’s private backyard garden, they had wrought iron window bars to keep intruders out.
Each morning the sun would rise over the NYC skyline and cast shadows from the wrought iron window bars onto the curtains, the wall and the bed.
I became completely fascinated with the wrought iron bars.
Unlike any windows I grew up with – which were barless – I began a photographic relationship with the bars.
Snow would come down and pile up on the top curve… rain would come and drip down off the bottom edge.
The sun would beat hard through the window and create shapes on my floor to ceiling curtains.
At night, I could focus on the bars and get the blurred city lights in the background.
I photographed those buggers incessantly – at all times of day – and from every vantage point I could reach from inside.
Moving out of that apartment was kind of bittersweet.
The view of NYC was amazing.
I watched the new World Trade replacement building go up for 5 years and moved away before it was finished.
I woke up one morning to see the top portion of a cruise ship glide by at eye level… because the Hudson River was just a mile away and in direct view.
And, little did I know, but down there, among the apartments and high-rises, my wife was making her way in the same city we both love.
Wrought Iron Window Bars: Waldo Ave Jersey City
If you have something in your life you find fascinating, like my wrought iron window bars, make it the subject of your photography for a while.
Create a series of images and explore its textures and nuances.
Take photos of it at all times of day, in every light, and explore it with your camera.
Check out my article on photographing a series to learn more about how a series of one thing will help you grow as a photographer.
By exploring the wrought iron window bars with my Canon, I believe it was one of the catalysts for my macro expressionism style.