2015 has been such an amazing year. Over the course of this year, I have been able to travel more than I ever have across the United States, seeing and capturing what is out there. During my travels, I was able to meet so many new, unique people, including many amazing artists. It has been so incredible that I have actually had the chance to do so many things that I never thought I would actually be able to do. I can’t say thank you enough to everybody who has supported me so much in these journeys, so that I can continue to create and share with the world. Over the course of 2015, my photographs and stories were able to reach every country possible around the world, gaining 4/5 of the top stories on WKYC’s website, and even landing in top stories of the year on International Business Times’ website. To know that I could reach so many people through my work – through everything that I am passionate about – makes me happier than I can explain. Without everybody’s support and interest, this would not have been possible. I would like to share a small overview of some of my favorite, or most popular photographs from 2015. Thank you all again for being here, thank you for helping me to reach the world, and let’s hope for great things to come in 2016!
1- Rolling Acres Mall
It was a normal day, not unlike so many others during Ohio’s chilled winter months. The wind blew forcefully, sweeping snow dust across a barren parking lot, resembling somewhat of an urban arctic tundra. The sun was blinding as it reflected brightly from Akron’s snow-coated city streets. Though being the average day as it seemed, there was one thing tucked away from the ordinary, not making a sound. Following the passing of a large white out just hours before, a friend and I decided to check out one of our favorite, somewhat local abandonments – the Rolling Acres Mall.
As winter fades away, nature welcomes a dark, post-apocalyptic forest to take place of the melted snow. The mall quickly becomes overgrown, falling further into disarray, throwing the scene even deeper into a surreal display of our otherwise normal world. Imagine trying to outrun the zombie apocalypse through a forested mall (okay yes, it looks like a zombie war zone). Foliage reflects in pooled water beneath the escalator. Also reflected, are the clouds lingering above broken ceiling, where glass has fallen away to the mall’s floor.
2 – The Aurora Over Erie
On March 17, 2015 I set out for an adventure with my camera in hopes of witnessing something I have always wanted to see – the Aurora Borealis. Most people in my area remained doubtful that it could even be a possibility to truly see this phenomenon give where we are, but when I heard about this huge solar storm, I prepared for any and every bit of this adventure. The photos I had captured have received some wild attention, from hugely positive, to very angry negativity from those who stick to their belief that something of that nature could not possibly happen over our very own Lake Erie.
The Kp level, or Geomagnetic Activity level during my viewing began at around 6 Kp, later rising to a level of 7.3 when the light began dancing, showing off in the distance. A lot of people, including myself (even though I personally witnessed it) are still having a hard time imagining that it was viewable to our eyes at the Southern end of Lake Erie. Normally never viewable this far South, especially in such a vivid display, the extreme intensity of the recent solar storm blew that thought straight out of the picture. If someone tells you that something isn’t possible, don’t listen.
3 – Mike Tyson’s Abandoned Mansion
My journeys have taken me to some strange places, ranging from the creepiness of an abandoned lunatic asylum, to the quiet, vast emptiness of a forgotten chapel, but nothing quite like the abandoned home of a former professional boxer. After being arrested here in 2013 it was nice to make a return trip, thankfully not ending in a $280 fine, to finally photograph the very odd forgotten structure of Mike Tyson’s abandoned 1980s mansion.
Now retired, the once undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Mike Tyson, otherwise known as Iron Mike, still holds a record for being the youngest boxer to win the WBC, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles at only 20 years old. Mike Tyson became a very opulent man, even if for just a moment before spending his money on multiple mansions, drugs and living a wild party-filled lifestyle, which eventually led to him filing bankruptcy in August of 2003.
4 – The Eerie Abandoned Neighborhood of Lincoln Way
Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if you fast-forwarded into the distant future only to find yourself standing in the middle of post-apocalypse? Set aside a main road in Clairton, Pennsylvania, this strange world actually exists, sitting quietly on each side of a cracked and forgotten neighborhood street. So what exactly happened on Lincoln Way that made everybody abandon their homes in such a mad dash? What kind of stories sit buried in the remnants left behind by each family previously inhabiting these 16 houses? Was it a matter of fear as urban legends state, or simply the environment? Asking local authorities, or even the locals surrounding town, you can never exactly get a straight answer, while most will avoid answering completely.
5 – The Old Riverside Hospital
This is one of those stories that – for some strange reason – seemed to make it all the way around the Internet, and I’m not sure how.
At the time of its full closure in 2002, nearly 270 beds remained only to now collect dust as time faded life away further and further. Local urban legends suggest that ghosts of former doctors and patients now roam the tunnels beneath this structure, but nothing is for certain. The hospital is now owned and monitored by the Toledo Public Schools; information bestowed upon us quite unwillingly and uncomfortably.
December 29, 2014 – the day we would personally meet the entire Toledo Police force. Our day started just like many others, with a journey towards Detroit, Michigan, where we were headed to photograph the Packard Plant; a place that surprisingly none of us have ever photographed, seeing as everyone and their uncle has. It was soon realized that a quick detour would take us to a lesser-explored hospital, so with a quick shift of our GPS, we were en route to the old Riverside Hospital.
6 – The Village of Yellowdog, Pennsylvania
An almost forgotten village remains shattered along hillsides, tucked away in the quiet state of Pennsylvania. Since the late 1700s, Pennsylvania has hosted a heavy mining industry throughout the entire state. Mine operations for this particular, almost-forgotten town began in the late 1890s – when life was simpler and most of the country’s population would tend to worry and fear far less. This lack of worry may have been a large contributing factor to why this once beautiful town eventually fell apart, but let’s not point any fingers – thus was life, and life was good! However, it’s quite certain that very few – if any – could foresee this village’s eventual downfall until years later, when the simple, peaceful and close-knit town of Yellow Dog began to take a turn for the worst.
8 – We Are So Small
Taken in the west, in Central Oregon, these photos became largely popular through my website and Facebook page
9 – Twilight Storm
While stopped in Kansas, watching a storm roll in from miles away, I could see lightning dance across the entire horizon what seemed like every second. Coyotes howled all through the quiet fields in preparation of the storm – a hellish sound in the dark night. Twilight danced above, as the storm cloud had not yet swept in to cover the entire night sky.
10 – Trees Like Towers
Photo taken in a forest just outside of Tillamook, Oregon
11 – The Way it Ended
Photo of the Milky Way, taken from Dolly Sods, West Virginia. With the help of some fancy, colored LED lights, the foliage pops with bright color.
12 – Namaste
Taken during a yoga even in Downtown Cleveland. Taken from 10 stories above in a former office.
13 – Mind Path
Taken at the Portland Japanese Gardens
14 – Lost in the Fog
Taken during one of the foggiest nights of the year for Cleveland. We ended up getting completely lost, and not able to find the road out – that is how thick the fog actually became.
15 – Lake Erie Explosion
What else would we do when the waves are raging out on Lake Erie? Of course, go play in them!
16 – Distant Rain
During my drive to Shaniko, Oregon I was able to photograph a storm approaching over the mountainous landscape.
17 – Christmas Moon Dog
As the year comes to a close, things are still happening in the sky, when on Christmas Night one of the largest moon dogs of the year just happened to appear around the moon.
18 – Prayers From Maria
Every year, this girl’s mother plants more sunflowers in this incredibly massive field to raise awareness of children’s glioma cancer. I was able to donate proceeds from print sales of these images.
19 – An Autumn Evening
One of the largest moon rises during the year that I was able to capture from a road in Chagrin Falls. I wish I would have been more prepared with an even longer lens, but this did very well.
20 – New Orleans
During the very beginning of the year, some friends and I decided to take a trip to New Orleans and document the aftermath, 10 years post-Katrina. Some of these photos became quite popular through my Facebook page and website.
21 – The Town of Spectre
During my Ohio to Oregon journey, I had set an important goal to visit the town of Spectre, from the film “Big Fish.” This goal was accomplished, and I was even able to meet one of the most awesome people who follows my work online from Alabama! It was an amazing time.
22 – Prismatic Decay
During my drive through Texas, heading towards Dallas, I accomplished one of my bucket list photographs – a rainbow over an abandoned home.
23 – Literature Forgotten
It’s incredible how much stuff we leave behind. This image truly struck something in so many people. Most of us can relate to this image of a home, but could not imagine seeing it in such a state of decay.
24 – Astoria Wreck
25 – Asylum Spiral
26 – Consumed by Vines
27 – Courage
This home reminded me of one of my favorite shows growing up. Actually, it’s still one of my favorite shows.
28 – Iredale Under Twilight
The wreck of Peter Iredale has an interesting history. This shipwreck is situated off of the Oregon coast.