Although Little Rock, Arkansas is hardly a big city with only 183,000 people, sometimes it’s tough to find a good spot to set up the camera and tripod without feeling like a complete goob. There’s always tons of people leaving the office and heading home to the suburbs when it comes time to take my photographs in the afternoon, and I always get uncomfortable trying to find a spot that’s shielded from the road.
I remember the day I found six abandoned houses on the outskirts of town, all bought up by the airport and eventually marked as condemned. I was so inspired by the serenity and the eeriness of the area that I rounded up my video camera and shot a video on my next visit. It was my secret place complete with all the things I couldn’t find in the city: lots of grass and flowers, a handful of abandoned houses, and the privacy I was always searching for. I went back time and time again and really began to make this place my own.
It wasn’t until the summer months brought the unbearable heat that I took a small break from my secret place (that’s something Amanda can relate to, hello Texas). When I went back at the end of July, I noticed a few bulldozers at work, but my favorite places were still in tact. It was nice to visit again! Although I was sweating more than ever and secretly wishing for cooler temperatures, I got lots of good shots that day and remembered why I feel in love with that place to begin with.
When I went back a week later, I couldn’t help but notice a big change. The house I had reveled at just a week earlier was gone along with two other houses on the block, and for the first time ever, the fate of my secret place began to seem real. The government was finally taking away the one spot that I called my own.
And if it felt real then, it was a big slap in the face when I went back yesterday and found a bulldozer resting by one of the few houses left on the block. I figured I would have to make this my final farewell shoot since the houses might not be there the next time I return. I titled it “Don’t Take My Land” in a dramatic and useless attempt to hang on to what’s left, and I’ll admit, there was a scene from The Virgin Suicides replaying in the back of my head the whole time (you know, the one where they’re chained to the tree).