Almost every time I embark on another photographic expedition I go through the same mental exercise of wondering what images I want to create. It doesn’t make a difference if the location or subject is new or very familiar, images are composed in my mind and are often supplemented with emotional feeling.
A recent three-hour drive to the Lonaconing Silk Mill was no exception. I have visited the Mill on several occasions during the past year and although images of the expanse of the place occupy my subconscious it is often the small details that I seek out, especially those that add something new to the human story that has remained untold for fifty plus years. However, while going through my usual routine on this particular occasion I also started to recall images that I have not previously captured. I began to realize that for such details to stick in my mind they must be important, and therefore I made it a goal to photograph them. While recreating vision may result in good images, recreating emotion adds depth and meaning.
One thing that I have seen on every single trip to the Mill is an old discarded novel – Her Third Man. The first several pages of the book are well worn but the rest have not been thumbed at all, suggesting that the owner never got to finish the story before the Mill closed its doors for the last time. Until this trip I felt the book was out of place and didn’t have a role in the story I was trying to tell, and therefore I ignored. On this particular occasion however, I realized that the book was actually a part of many different stories. On the one hand, much like the story of the books’ main character I imagined the owner being a person unsuccessful in their attempt to seek an escape from mundane every-day life only for it to be suddenly terminated when the mill closed. On the other hand I imagined the book being a symbol for the Mill itself, discarded with only a fraction of its story told. This to me was powerful and I decided to create an image of the discarded book in a manner that would emphasize the symbolic feelings of isolation and human tragedy.