Victory Theater – Holyoke, Massachusetts

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about attending a photography workshop in an old, abandoned theater where we accidentally got our dates wrong. Since then we have attended the actual workshop hosted by Matthew Christopher of Abandoned America. It was tons of fun exploring this site and I can’t wait to attend another one of these workshops. My only complaint is that it was only four hours. Click HERE to see the rest of these images.

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Moldy Seats

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Part of the Projection Room

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Backstage Area

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Freezer in Concession Stand Area

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Scary Bathroom

Stage

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Gooseberry Island

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I must visit the ocean every once in a while or I start to feel a little crazy. Okay, but not crazy, but I certainly feel off kilter and irritable. A friend recommended I visit Horseneck Beach in Westport and while looking it up on a map I noticed a small island nearby. This seemed to me to be the seaside adventure I needed.

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The island is called Gooseberry Island. At first I was reluctant to share the name and location because I kind of wanted this to be my secret island. I will definitely be going back there.

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These images are part of my efforts to start shooting photos with something other than my phone again. It’s time to get to know my equipment again and work on some personal projects. You can view my whole set of photos from this day HERE.

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Holyoke, Or the Workshop that Wasn’t… Yet.

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Victory Theater – Holyoke, Mass.

Ron and I signed up for a fantastic sounding workshop hosted by Matthew Christopher of Abandoned America. Despite my camera woes of the previous weeks I was determined to make the most of this workshop so I rented a camera from LensProToGo. (I highly recommend them if you need equipment or want to play with something new.) We got up way to damn early on a Sunday and hauled our asses out to Western Massachusetts, about an hour and a half away. After much fretting over equipment, not getting enough sleep, what to wear, how to get there, and frantically looking for a McDonald’s or similar establishment so I could empty my itsy-bitsy bladder, we arrived at our destination, The Victory Theater in Holyoke.

We seemed to be the first to arrive. We parked the car and waited for a little bit. then it occurred to me to double check the confirmation email to verify that we had the right location. We both whip out our phones (thank the gods for smartphones) and realized that we got our dates wrong and were a there week early for the workshop. After some hysterical laughter and tears of frustration we decided to make the most of it and get our moneys worth out of the rental camera. We walked around the rather sketchy neighborhood to get the lay of the land and see what there was to see.

As it turns out, there isn’t much to see, or depending on your view of things, LOTS to see. Holyoke was once a thriving industrial community and now it’s just sad. The drizzle and fog only enhanced the air of desperation about the area. If you like abandoned buildings and desolate urban landscapes, Holyoke is a goldmine. Me? I’m a sucker for bleak and dreary places and thought it was a photographers dream location. If I were to film a horror movie or post apocalyptic sci-fi drama, this would be a great place to do it.

I will say that Holyoke is ripe for a revival. It is close enough to Northampton and UMass Amherst to be a great place for artists to convert abandoned factories into artist studios. There is quite a lot of potential here and the fact that the theater we were here to photograph is going to be restored is a good start in reviving this area. In fact, the workshop we signed up for is part of the fundraising efforts towards the restoration.

If you would like to see more photos from our impromptu walk around the neighborhood surround the Victory Theater, click HERE. I have the annoying tendency to edit photos in the order I took them, as well as write in the order things happened so stay tuned for images from the ACTUAL workshop. I am catching up and will post them soon. It just so happens that I have shot more in the last two weeks than I have in the last year so bear with me. Thanks for  your patience!

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A Meandering Ramble Through My Mind

The last couple of weeks have been busy and stressful and weird and interesting. I don’t even know where to begin. The last time I posted I was blathering on about a broken camera. Let’s start there.

It turns out that my camera is just fine and it is the lens that is malfunctioning. I was able to confirm that this past weekend. As for the whole weird story behind that I am going to wait to blog about it until after part two of the saga, which should occur this coming weekend. Lets just say I learned an important lesson about confirming dates and writing the correct date on my calendar before waking up at the crack of dawn and making long drives to the middle of the state. Holyoke is a sad, sad place. If I were to film a horror movie about the end of the world, I would do it there.

I know, that’s pretty vague, but I woke up with a headache this morning and while I feel like writing, I feel like there’s a thousand other things I should be doing right now and the brightness of the screen is a tad irritating. And yet I am still here.

I forgot my phone yesterday. It felt weird. Not that many people try to get in touch with me that way, it felt oddly freeing, yet disconnected. Stranded even.

Back to my camera problems. The broken lens is nice enough, and frankly, expensive enough that it is worth cleaning/fixing/whatever it needs so I will look into doing that. I rented a camera last weekend thinking my camera was toast and I had fun playing with it. I’m trying to get back into taking photos with something besides my phone. That thing has been a curse and a blessing. Taking photos with my phone is fun. Taking photos with a “real camera” started to feel like a job, which sucks the fun out of it. Part of me wonders if photography was more fun when I had no idea what I was doing. I tend to get caught up in the technical details and lose focus, pun intended.

This rental camera has lit a spark in me and I am now considering buying a new camera. I’ve always been about the new shiny. Ron loves to research the shit out of things and he’s good at it so he’s been looking into things for me. I let him do the research because I usually hit a saturation point with information overload and when that happens I tend to shut down. You should see me in the salad dressing aisle at the supermarket. Too many damn choices.

I do wonder if I should try to use the tools I have at hand before investing in something new. If I am not using the equipment I have, will buying something new just end up collecting dust as well? Part of me wants something new to play with NOW, but the practical side of me says wait.  Play with the toys you have before looking at something new.  Get to know those old girls again and see what they are still capable of. There will always be something new to buy and there will always be a better version of whatever I have.

This is such a “first world problem” it’s not even funny. Or maybe it is funny? Perhaps I am obsessing over this camera thing so I don’t have to think about other things. In the grand scheme of things this isn’t very important at all. Or perhaps I am over thinking the fact that I am over thinking this? I still have a headache and I’m really starting to blather on so I’m going to step away from the screen now.