Looking back through photographs I took in Minneapolis I often come to the images I took at the site of the Fruen Mill near Theodore Worth Park on a chilly winter night. The sheer mass of these structures are a testament to a once booming time in this now residential neighborhood. The buildings have a beauty of their own as they sit and decay season after season.
The remains of a once booming mill sit vacant and rotting in the middle of the Bryn Mawr neighborhood of Minneapolis. These buildings have remained unused for over 40 years and show their wear along with plenty of street art. Most of the structures were built after 1920, but the lot has been used for milling since 1894. The lot is next to Basset Creek and adjacent to the enormous Theodore Worth Park. Empty and dilapidated buildings sit towering over the residential neighborhood boasting fantastic views of downtown. The views from the top of this structure are in part the reason that it still stands. Redevelopment has been discussed several times, yet always fallen through.
One magical thing in doing long exposures at night near bodies of water is the reflections created in the often still liquid. Working in the Twin Cities water is always nearby; whether it is rivers, lakes, streams, or puddles. Looking back through the work I have created over the past years I find many images of reflections. These reflections combined with the lights of the city or of the moon give the world a surreal look of unimaginable beauty that one is unable to see with their eyes, yet is able to be captured through a camera. Here are a few of my favorites.
The clarity of the reflection of the boats on Lake Harriet simply amaze me every time I look at this image.
The stillness of the water and the fact that the bird did not move during this exposure are astonishing. Add to that the reflections of the colorful city lights in the water with the neon colors of the tree and it is a magical scene.
Though some dislike the symmetry of this image I absolutely love everything about it. The lights reflecting on the waters of the Mississippi River appear as a highway across the river beneath the Hennepin Ave. bridge that crosses from downtown to northeast.
The border of Minneapolis and St. Paul is the Mississippi River. The river creates a barrier and the bridges create the links between.
The bridges always amazed me. Not only do they span nearly a century of architecture, but each has a very unique aesthetic. There is the historic Stone Arch Bridge on which opened in 1883 to the new and modern Lowry Avenue Bridge that opened in 2012.
Living or working in the Twin Cities you cannot avoid crossing the Mississippi on a regular basis. Moving to Texas has been odd in that my commute only crosses the Trinity River on an old and very unappealing structure. While living in both Minneapolis and St. Paul I used to love escaping at night to photograph the wonderful lines, curves, textures, and lighting of these magnificent structures. Every image could tell a story; representing a time in history in which these cities expanded across the river.
Looking back through my work over the past years I have amassed a small collection of a few of these bridges. My hopes is that if I return to the Twin Cities in the future I can put together a body of work representing each bridge that connects the east and west banks of the Mississippi River.
Way back in the days when the grass was still green
And the pond was still wet
And the clouds were still clean,
And the song of the Swomee-Swans rang out in space…
One morning I came to the glorious place.
And I first saw the trees!
The Truffula Trees!
The bright colored tufts of the Truffula Trees!
Mile after mile in the fresh morning breeze.
I recently mailed a copy of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss to my niece in Colorado. Before mailing it I of course took the time to re-read the book myself.
The concept of the book is that change begins with one person and from that the possibilities are endless. In Minneapolis one such man would be the former parks board president and commissioner Charles Loring. Loring helped to make Minneapolis to be known not only as the City of Lakes, but also the City of Parks.
This excerpt made me think of a morning in Minneapolis that I went to the Lyndale Peace Gardens. It was fall, the air was moist, and the trees were like swaying rainbows in the breeze as the birds sang in the morning air. Not to mention the bright colors of the trees was not unlike that of the Truffala Trees.
I was alone in this area of natural wonder. For anybody who has never spent time in Minneapolis the city and its residents have a high regard for their parks and the ability to escape into pristine areas of wilderness without ever escaping the city limits. The Lyndale Peace Garden, which is right along the chain of lakes, is one of these exceptional parks.
The Peace Garden was originally called The Rock Garden because of natural ancient rocks. The rocks were perfect housing for alpine plants and dwarf conifers; giving it the feel of a Japanese garden much like that of Como Zoo. It has a small zig-zag bridge over a rock bed that at times is filled with water. The zig-zag design is in Japanese tradition as it is said that evil spirits can only walk in a straight line, thus preventing the spirits from following those who enter the garden.
As you cross the bridge to the sight of a beautiful, low growing conifer greets you. The trail winds around these trees near a small waterfall along with more exceptional landscaping.
One thing that I miss dearly living in Texas is the ease of escape to nature I was able to enjoy in Minneapolis. Within a mere few miles of my apartment was five natural lakes (nearly every lake in Texas is man-made). I could hop on my bicycle at the front step of my apartment and within 20-30 minutes be across town sitting on the edge of Lake Harriet next to the beautiful architecture of its bandshell taking photographs of the reflections in the clean water, the boats moored in the starlight, and more.
First and foremost the first tip of the article is to very simply set aside a set amount of time every day. I have begun to use my lunchtime coffee and snack as my photography hour. Just as the Palahniuk states I often begin this hour with little in mind or not wanting to work. Nearly every day by then end of the hour I find that I just cannot find enough time to complete everything that has come to mind.
The beauty of this technique for me is that this hour can be used for anything that pertains to my artwork and trying to create a living from it. I spend the time writing on this blog, taking photographs, editing images, looking back through old shoots I have done, working on a lesson plan and book on how to do night photography, advertising, and the list goes on. I have found that in spending this time on many things it keeps me more interested. Do I have to spend the hour taking photographs since it is photography time, no. There are so many other facets to producing my work on a commercial level than just shooting.
Looking back through work is another piece of advice that has worked greatly for me. I have found that when I don’t know what to do looking back through all of my work gets my creative juices flowing, and the wild part is that the images that help most are often ones I completely overlooked during my original edits from shoots. Case and point are many of the images used in this blog. Going through my old work often gets me thinking as to how it relates to then, now, and my future which has been what I have used for writing topics.
“Write the book you want to read” is a direct quote from Palahniuk. This can apply to any art. Take the photographs you want to see. Paint the paintings that would inspire you. Write the music you would listen to every day. That is pretty simple, but extremely powerful. If the work is of importance to you then it will likely mean more to others; your dedication and belief in your art shows in the final product regardless of your field.
It is surprising how just reading a short article has given me a more consistent productivity in my work, but using these ideas in my own way has made quite a difference in my workflow. Now to hope that I can continue to be this productive down the long stretch….
I received my monthly copy of National Geographic in the mail today and was surprised upon seeing an article by Minnesota native Garisson Keillor’s. The article is an absolute joy to read, especially when I can picture in my head nearly all of the locations Keillor recalls throughout the passage. The article is a visual journey through the Twin Cities as a lifelong story of one’s life in. It is interesting to take this perspective on anybody’s life. Imagining the times and places we recall as we travel through the places that have become our home. It is easy to picture your childhood on the street you grew up on, or your teenage romping grounds, as you drive along the same roads you have known your entire life. Through the progress it is a simple visualization to see these places as they were 10, 15, 20, or more years ago when they were a place well traveled day by day. I invite you to travel through this article.
I looked back at images that describe places in my life that I can view as they once were. I decided to include this one as I can remember being at the Minneapolis lakes from my earliest days up through my first year of marriage. I can see myself standing in my cowboy boots, barely as tall as my grandfathers waist, feeding the birds, or sitting at the Lake Harriet Bandshell listening to high school bands with my parents, sister, and dogs, as well as leisurely biking around the lakes along with my wife on a peaceful and warm Minnesota spring afternoon.