Scott Vaughn Photography

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I call the work that I do “nature photography—of a sort.” My work documents the progression of abandonment left to its inevitable result.

Nature taking its course, if you will.

When I walk into an abandoned space, the first thing I do is stop, listen, and feel. Most old buildings still contain the energy of the folks who once resided there. If you listen closely, you can hear it whispering. In so many ways, what you can see is just the beginning; these places also convey that which is beyond the scope of the eye, including the sounds and smells and energies accumulated through time.

My hope is that my work suggests the past by showing the present; indeed, it is important that I document the current state for its own sake. For me, taking in these places is like hearing a snippet of an old, familiar song: you cannot help but continue hearing the rest of the song and re-experiencing the universal and personal circumstances in play when you first heard it.

I am often asked if I feel sad about the conditions I photograph. Though I am sensitive to the energies of the places I visit, sadness is generally not the emotion I feel. Indeed, decay conveys a beauty not found in the conventional aesthetics of a carefully maintained structure. I would describe my experience as not unlike the sense of wonder evoked by the Grand Canyon or Mount Rushmore or Greek ruins—obvious differences in scale aside.

Another common question is how a person might find similar locations where they live. My response is always that once you become consciously attuned to something, you can't help but find it everywhere. When we are programmed to see only classic beauty, that is often all we will see. But if we expand our awareness to encompass decay and ruin, we will come to see that beauty—exceptional beauty—resides there as well.

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