Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I've Been Doing Building Portraits for a Long Time

Buckeye, West Virginia

This 8x10 shot from early in 2002, near the beginning of my serious effort to photograph the American drive-in theater and its resonance with the varied regional landscape, has always been a favorite. Which might explain why I find that people, everyone more or less who looks at this project, talks about abandoned drive-in theaters, when, in fact, the majority of the pictures are of theaters that are, or at least were at the time, fully operational.

The other problem this picture brings up is, there are at least two other pictures from this venue that are nearly as good. As I work toward the design of the DI book, the problem is whether to aim at a Spartan presentation of only a few, or go for a really thick book with a whole lot of pictures. I never set out to document all of them, but I find myself wanting the book to be as comprehensive as possible. I've shot somewhere around 250 theaters though...

As an aside, here is a cut from my Shooting Log:

Buckeye drive-in. Complete surprise, clearly derelict but the screen is in surprisingly nice shape. There’s a tiny barbershop adjacent to the entry, and the barber confirms it’s a DI.  A guy hanging out in the shop says he helped build the drive-in when he was a teen-ager, back in the fifties. Another says it stopped operating twenty years ago. Barber says the odd thing is that the screen was blown over by a storm, then rebuilt for $25K, but then the theater never reopened with the newly built screen. Caravans for a carnival or street vendor fair are parked all over the lot along with decrepit projection house and very derelict ticket booth.11:00, five different views including some from the back of the lot with 14 inch, an approach I haven’t tried before, then closer views with 240. Buckeye has a post office—in a trailer, and not a new trailer.


Scott Kirkpatrick said...

That little cottage looks like a motel cabin. Does it have a big picture window for watching the movie from a nice big bed, and a curtain that can then be drawn?


Carl said...

That's the ticket booth. You pulled up to the window on the left side of the little building, where the trees have grown up in the way. In fact there are three drive-ins I know of that had/have a motel attached, with picture window rooms to see the show.