The “Left Behind” portfolio is different than any other photography I have done. They were taken inside the derelict buildings of Bodie, CA which is an abandoned gold-rush town located east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The town’s heyday was during the latter part of the 19th century, but as the mining opportunities evaporated, the miners and other citizens had to abandon their life there. The buildings and rooms are mostly empty now except for loose fragments and artifacts that still grace the dusty interiors.
These vignettes tell an incomplete tale. After working with the images, they took me deeper and deeper into the feelings they evoked in me. They seemed to go beyond the simple documentation of a place in history. They are a testimony to the transience and inevitable change that we all instinctively know and struggle with in our lives. The most common reaction from other viewers is usually a quiet wonder – “Why did they leave this behind?” Another response is the recognition that these people, who lived such a hard-scrabble life in such a desolate place, were no different than human beings today, in that we all seek to surround ourselves and the corners of our lives with objects that are meant to give us support, comfort, ease and beauty in our daily lives.
The photographs also speak to the strength of the human spirit in times of hardship and loss, of humanity’s ability to continue on amidst the uncertainties of life. Even though these people lived over a century ago, their wrenching choice to leave behind a familiar place or a cherished dream is no different from that of many people around the globe today who are forced to make the same decision.
I have considered myself to primarily be a black and white photographer. However I found that a desaturated color palette was a visceral testimony to the old, faded and gritty interiors that exist there.