Hard Scrabble Photography

Hard Scrabble Photography

I seek out my images in forgotten alleyways, industrial machinery ‘boneyards’ and gritty scrapyards.

I remember going to scrapyards as a child with my dad to glean car parts for his projects. I knew it was a special place, unknown by many. Now, as I seek out my images as an adult, I step into a world of gruff, tough-as-nails ‘Yard Bosses’ with dirty faces and a gnashing snarl that would scare Clint Eastwood. …and that snarl is directed at me! They’ve gotten used to me over the years though and allowed me in - they see I am sincere and passionate about what I do.

I’ve learned the rules and etiquette, if you will, of the scrapyard. Stay far away from the large pieces of heavy equipment being operated, employing large swinging arms with grasping tools or huge 4 feet in diameter magnets for lifting metal from place to place. They may back over you, so watch their movements. Be aware of sharp, protruding points, razor sharp edges, slippery, oily areas and huge piles of metal that may cascade down on you at any time. I have become very adept at climbing over piles of uneven, twisted, wound up piles of wire, pipe, and hulking bodies of discarded industrial machinery.

There is a sweet, oily smell everywhere from the mixture of every imaginable chemical thrown together. On a blazing hot summer day, there is dust rising from the road winding around within the yard. You suspect this dust contains, lead, PCBs and possible radiation from the many loads of materials received from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation for over 70+ years. Still, I am drawn to this inhospitable place to get my shots! It’s my obsession!

I try to go to the scrapyard most every time my son Joseph, a sculptor, goes there to buy metal for his creative work (Website: RastovichArt.com). Joseph, has my back and watches out for me while I get lost in the moment and into the flow of capturing images.

I can shoot hundreds of images at a time when I go out. I organize my 80,000 images by color, subject matter and date with the help of a computer program. It can be overwhelming, but I surprise myself at times by remembering where an image was shot years ago and what came from … such as a railcar or dumpster.


Leave a comment