Pho­tog­ra­pher finds beauty in ru­ins of aban­doned N.L. homes

The Packet (Clarenville) - - EDITORIAL - BY MARK SQUIBB THE PACKET

For Steve Camp­bell, the term ‘house-hunt­ing’ takes on a whole new mean­ing.

That’s be­cause Camp­bell has made it his hobby to pho­to­graph, what he calls, “tra­di­tional, aban­doned, or in­ter­est­ing homes and build­ings.”

“Pri­mar­ily it’s been res­i­den­tial homes that have been very orig­i­nal to their forms… old clap­board, wooden win­dows,” Camp­bell ex­plained to The Packet.

Camp­bell says he has been pho­tograph­ing aban­doned build­ings for about six or seven years now, and has been up­load­ing them to his Face­book group Lost New­found­land since 2013.

Re­ac­tion to the pho­to­graphs has been gen­er­ally pos­i­tive, and al­though some users have re­quested that Camp­bell re­move a photo of a rel­a­tive’s or fam­ily mem­bers old home or store, many users en­joy see­ing the pho­to­graphs.

“Peo­ple have re­ally taken to the pho­tos. Some of these old houses are great pho­to­graphic sub­jects in them­selves … I put them on Face­book on this page, and al­most every time I’ve got­ten a fam­ily mem­ber who would say, ‘oh this is Aunt Gert’s house, and this is the his­tory of it’.

“Peo­ple say ‘oh, I love these old houses’ or ‘it’s sad that a house like this that was some­body’s home once and pro­vided com­fort and shel­ter is now left on its own’. Peo­ple find it sad … some of the peo­ple see­ing these houses haven’t seen them in years, or are liv­ing on the main land, and say ‘oh, I re­mem­ber vis­it­ing grandma there, what great times we had there’. You’re go­ing back 30 or 40 years. Peo­ple see it as a sim­pler time.”

And for Camp­bell, cap­tur­ing some of the mystery and in­trigue and his­tory sur­round­ing these old build­ings is much of the joy and won­der in pho­tograph­ing them.

“What is the story of these houses, what hap­pened to them, and who lived there that’s al­ways what in­trigued me,” ex­plained Camp­bell.

“I’m into New­found­land his­tory, and when you come across one of these old places, they’re beau­ti­ful in their own right a lot of times.”

And how does Camp­bell find the per­fect aban­doned old build­ing?

Well, he goes out and hunts for them.

“I love the hunt of find­ing one of these old houses.

“We would just go around, just go out and do photo shoots. Drive around, and pick an area, go down side roads … just get out and ex­plore. There’s so many lit­tle side roads, that un­less you go down every­one of them, your prob­a­bly gonna miss some things.”

Sometimes, find­ing a sub­ject can prove quite dif­fi­cult.

“Some of these houses are hard to find to. You drive around and spot one through the woods and you clam­ber down over the bank, and you say ‘how did peo­ple even get to this place?’ but you’ve got to be ready, you’ve got to have your sturdy boots on and be ready to do a bit of search­ing.

“I’ve found houses tucked away that you had to walk to, you couldn’t even drive your car there.”

It’s also not just a mat­ter of find­ing a per­fect sub­ject – it’s find­ing the per­fect sub­ject at the per­fect time.

“Early morn­ing is when you’re go­ing to get your best pic­ture. Once the day starts –

12 o’clock, one or two o’clock – then a lot of the times the light is too harsh and shines right down on the houses.

“If your not there at the right time, you re­ally kill a shot.”

And though old homes form the core of Camp­bell’s work, some of his most well re­ceived and pop­u­lar posts have not been homes at all.

“Con­vince stores and gen­eral stores get a lot of pos­i­tive re­sponses … peo­ple seem to have fond mem­o­ries of go­ing there, and go­ing in the store. The own­ers were al­ways in the store, sort of a mom-and-pop op­er­a­tion. I get a lot of re­sponses on pho­tos like that.”

Camp­bell says that his most pop­u­lar posts have been a series of pho­to­graphs show­ing the di­lap­i­dated and aban­doned Trin­ity Loop amuse­ment park in Trin­ity.

And the weapon of choice when hunt­ing for the per­fect old house, con­ve­nient store, or aban­doned amuse­ment park?

Camp­bell uses a Canon 5D Mark III, but ex­plained that your choice of lens and glass are just as im­por­tant as your cam­era choice, and maybe even more so.

“The cam­era is a good part of it, but the lens and the glass you’re us­ing has a bit more in­flu­ence on your pho­tos. I’ve been for­tu­nate enough to be able to ac­quire a cou­ple of de­cent pieces of glass. So I’m us­ing, al­most ex­clu­sively for these shots, tilt shift lens … they’re great for ar­chi­tec­ture and build­ings and even land­scapes … the tilt shift re­ally al­lows you to get the whole house right into the per­fect plane of fo­cus.”

Camp­bell says that he en­joys the hobby, and de­spite the time and money re­quired, will con­tinue shoot­ing while there are sub­jects left to shoot … which, may not be for­ever.

“Since be­gin­ning, a lot of the houses I’ve pho­tographed have ac­tu­ally been torn down …

so I can only imag­ined what ex­isted prior to start­ing.”


A lone house in Loon Bay.


Aban­doned prop­erty on Fogo Is­land.


This va­ri­ety store in Mus­grave Har­bour has since been torn down.

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