Blog

Jeffrey Byrnes Photographer Fashion + Portraits + Travel

Photography: The Silhouette of Industry

The Silhouette of Industry

The Silhouette of Industry Those who know me best, or at least know my work by sight, can describe my images well. Often times people get confused and think my first choice of subject matter is abandoned buildings and cityscapes. This is entirely incorrect as my interests in capturing cities, both with people and without is to document what fascinates me. The objects left behind from the era of industry are relics. A building that once used to house factory workers is as equally interesting as the mill building itself. It is likely that I will never figure out what compels me to study them. I am in no way driven to study the workings and history of the era of industry. I am however fascinated at its existence. It sounds odd to say that I am not interested in the history, yet I have extensively photographed one of the greatest contributions to the era of Industry, the Queen of Industrial Cities, Holyoke.

I grew up across the river. I grew up hearing stories of what Holyoke used to be. Today, I am part of conversations of what Holyoke is going to be. A city that was founded on innovation and creativity is in a liminal stage. I often say that we are so far from Industrialism that the labeling of a "post-industrial" city should be forgotten. Cities that once relied on manufacturing and the production of goods no longer do. To move forward is to embrace the past and understand ones roots, but look beyond the horizon.

I made this photograph in passing today. I have shot this same image dozens of times over. Today it seemed fitting though. I have been engaging in conversations recently that have discussed the fabric of the cities beginning. While it is true that I do not read much about the history of industrialism, never-the-less I am at times so immersed in it. For me, the roads, buildings, and images that I construct are all based on vision. Both the literal sight of the object as well as the mental capacity to visualize what is no longer there. Countless times I have stood facing an object, door, room, machine, and section of a mill building just wondering. Wondering what it was like to be in that environment as it was thriving, living, breathing the intended life it was meant to live.

Many buildings stand today. Problematic for the city. Eye sores for the community. Un-answerable questions exist for the municipality that aspires to have the city flourish with life life once again. The challenges that face Holyoke are uniquely different than the neighboring once, former, post-industrial city. Other cities have begun to answer their questions and are on a fast track to a new life, some, some have long days ahead of them.