The Long Way Home

While the City Sleeps
June 30, 2015, 10:16 PM
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: , , ,
A view from the Southside Cemetery (outtake).

A view from the Southside Cemetery (outtake)

I’ve had this dream of taking photos before the city wakes, and this month’s 12×12 photo challenge gave me that opportunity: Take what you believe will be the final series of photographs before you die (Nick Brandt). I admit, the topic kind of scared the shit out of me, despite my fascination with death culture, and anything dark, strange, creepy, or curiously morbid. Taking the photos felt like jinxing myself, as if I’d summon our inevitable fate a littler sooner than anticipated. Also, it ups the ante to make the “last” photos really, really good photos. It made me want to go big, do something wild and out of the ordinary, which is most likely the point: I should do something different (no self-portraits!).

Gem Way

Gem Way

Instead of thinking about the photos, I thought about all the things I put off doing and finally decided to do. I came across notes I had written in my journal – lists, really, of places around the city where I’ve meant to take pictures. And on a cold, gloomy (then later, sunny) Sunday morning (in short: unpredictable), Polaroid Spectra in hand, Jeff and I drove to each point so I could capture those tiny corners of Pittsburgh. We went downtown to Liberty Avenue because all the times I sat waiting for him to get off work, I’d stare at the expanse of buildings on Liberty and think how they were so faded and crumbling and lovely, like a painting, that I had to get them on instant film; or on the Southside Slopes, a house I’ve seen hanging on the edge of S. 18th Street being swallowed by ivy, and I marveled over its survival through decades.

Pearl St. altar, Bloomfield

Pearl St. altar, Bloomfield

These aren’t statement photos, or conceptual, or typically Pittsburgh or anything different from what I’ve done before, but rather, a bookend to what I have done for years: sending love letters to my city – a dark, strange, and (sometimes) curiously morbid little town that defines me in ways that I find hard to put into words.

Liberty Ave., 9 AM

Liberty Ave., 9 AM

Ivy house on S. 18th, Southside Slopes

Ivy house on S. 18th, Southside Slopes

City garden, Southside Slopes

City garden, Southside Slopes (outtake)

Gem Way, Garfield

Gem Way, Garfield (outtake)


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Nicely framed, vintage looking photos which certainly capture some of Pittsburgh’s spirit and weirdness–the altar, Gem Way, and even city garden. I do enjoy it when you trod these paths of discovery. Thanks for sharing.


Comment by mww1818

Our morbid little town keeps providing us more tales. Great series. Great exercise in photography.


Comment by motherblue212

‘morbid little town’?! Come on, I loved Pittsburgh! (Been there once 😊) Thanks for the photos.


Comment by 100mijs

Lovely series Lisa.


Comment by Photobooth Journal

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