A Documentarian in Making

Basically this post is all about me explaining, why I photograph the way I do. But I find it important, so I’ll do it.

When I first entered abandoned buildings, it wasn’t about details or excitement. The thrill was actually in seeing, how the places were, before they were completely destroyed. I had found a world of its own, yes, but I also wanted to create a lasting memory of places, which were important to me, and soon would be history. And for me this was nothing new.

I took this photo a couple of blocks away from my childhood home almost 20 years ago, years before I showed any interest towards abandoned buildings. We had read from the papers, that the petrol station pictured was to close. The building along with the grocery store behind it, an old bus depot behind that one and a restaurant to the left of this picture, would be demolished to make way for a massive new supermarket.

Nowadays I have more memories about the new supermarket than this old petrol station, but back then it seemed important to photograph it during its last day of operation. The spring came, and so came demolition crews, who tore the place down.

This photo is taken the following summer. The second one to go was the building housing our local pizzeria and a fabric store. The last ruins of the petrol station can still be seen to the right.

The backside of the restaurant was as important as the facade. After all, I passed this view daily when going to school and returning home.

The restaurant is now long gone, and then they started work with the bus depot. Such a shame. I found it a really fascinating building.

With a demolition site to the right and a construction site to the left, this tiny grocery store would soon give way to a parking lot and a new petrol station. I still remember fondly all the Bertie Bott’s all flavour beans I bought from here.

The last picture was taken way back in 2004. So much for the throwback inside a throwback. It would take another four years before I and my obsolete mobile phone camera would be roaming on the deserted Keimola Motor Stadium.

Back then I was pretty conservative. I loved my home town, and wanted it to stay the way it was. Whenever I saw a beautiful abandoned structure, my heart skipped a beat or two. I became afraid they would vanish, I feared for the landscape changing. I would take detours time and time again just to check they were still there.

This beauty here was originally a school specialized in educating dairy workers, and by now it had sat empty for years. Its windows were dusty, yet intact, and I made a drive by weekly just to see that it was still there. I never got to enter it, but I was more than happy to notice a couple of years later, that it had been beautifully renovated to an apartment building.

This is yet another one of my screenshots from an aerial picture, and this baby wasn’t at all as lucky as the dairy school. It hadn’t been empty for a long time, but the planners were pretty unsure what to do with it. The owners wanted to demolish it, the city wanted to protect it. I had looked through its windows a couple of times, and everything, just everything was in a 1950ish look including the kitchens. I desperately wanted inside.

There was only one summer festival in the city back then. When I walked there, I once again looked through the house’s windows longing to get inside. When I came back in the night, I saw this.

While I was enjoying Amorphis and getting drunk, the beauty burned down. It stood as a charred skeleton for a few more months until it was demolished for good and replaced with a six storey block of flats.

When I later heard, its doors had been unlocked for all summer to attract potential arsonists, I was furious. It had been accessible all along, and I hadn’t managed a single proper photo of it, even from the outside. It was time to get some guts. And a new camera.

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