Not Forgotten

Bodie is a ghost town in California that I used for the background of this photomontage. A once thriving gold-mining town with a population of 10,000, Bodie is now a tourist attraction with decaying old buildings.

I seem to be attracted to old buildings that are in various stages of dilapidation. One of the reasons for this attraction is the beautiful lighting that often shines through the windows of these structures.

Dramatic lighting is the essential component of many of my photographs. When I add other images to create my collage photo, I am always aware of the light of the background photo. Many times I fabricate shadows in a scene that are realistic because I study the direction of the light shining through a window. This gives the objects I place in the composition a more realistic look.

Many people ask if I have been to Africa to photograph the jungle animals that I use in some of my photo montages. I have not.

One day my wife and I were on our way to Reno, Nevada to stay at one of our favorite places, The Atlantis Casino. On the way there we stopped at a sporting goods store called Cabela’s. It was my first visit to this impressive store. As we walked toward the middle of the store, I was surprised to find a re-creation of a jungle scene with perfectly preserved lifelike animals. For the next several hours, I photographed every animal from a humongous elephant to the ferocious looking lion.

I am not a fan of taxidermy or killing beautiful animals for sport, but I knew I would someday find a way of extracting some meaning in photographing these magnificent animals.

One sad day my wife’s Mom passed, and two of the items that she kept were her mother’s shoes and an old doll.  I was moved, and as I do with most things, I photographed them.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I now had all the components for my next photomontage.

Many months have passed since I first photographed the old buildings of Bodie. I had a great photograph, but without some meaning, it was not enough. Then one day, I made the connection of putting ghostly images of the jungle animals into the picture I took at a ghost town. It made perfect sense. The doll and the shoes evoked strong emotions, and they seemed to fit right in with my concept.

My photomontage was now complete, but without a title. I tried for weeks to come up with a name for this piece, but none of the ones I chose were good enough.  I finally posted this question to my Facebook friends; Can anyone help with a title for this new piece I just finished?  It would be very much appreciated”.  The response was overwhelming. Rose Kirby, a fellow artist friend who does extraordinary art came up with the title that I finally chose. The title is “Not Forgotten.”


Bodie, Ghost Town