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Disappearing Barns

Published August 31st, 2011

A few weeks ago I wrote my first blog on 500px and I included a picture of one of my favorite subjects, an old Iowa dairy barn. I visited that barn today and found part of it missing. Not a lot, but enough to tell me it is probably on its way out.

This experience reminded me of a conversation I had with another photographer a while back. We were discussing subjects we shoot and why. One of mine is old farm buildings and machinery. I record them because we are losing them. My explanation is based on the Dust Bowl, of the 1930's. People of that time once asked a photographer who was making pictures of the Dust Bowl's desolation, why he was taking pictures. He reply was, "So years from now people will understand what the dust bowl was."

Today that conversation came back to me as I looked upon a barn missing a substantial part of its stone foundation. It had only been a few weeks, but in that time the barn had been substantially weakened. Over the last few years there have been five, maybe six barns that have disappeared from the landscape where I make most of my photographs. Time is marching on and the landscape is changing. It gives me some measure of comfort that I have preserved, digitally, a big part of my childhood and my state's heritage. I hope I can save some more with my camera. I think I already have.

Below is the barn as it looked today. You will see a missing portion of stone in the front. You can now see through the barn to the back pasture. I don't know if the owner has started to remove the barn, or if it is just falling apart with age. Regardless, someone years from now can enjoy it and get a sense of life now and years past. This is a part of my work that adds a lot of satisfaction, instead of a sense of loss. I hope your work can do the same for you.



Crumbling Foundation of an old dairy barn in Iowa. See an earlier picture in my first blog. The entire front used to be the stone you see on the left.

  • August 30th, 2011
  • Canon EOS digital Rebel XSi
  • 78mm / f/5.6 / 1/200 sec

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