By Tim Farmer
Recently I was exploring North St. Louis with a group of friends. We explored the St. Louis Place area not far from Crown Candy. It was sad seeing some really amazing buildings in such disrepair and an area of the city all but forgotten and allowed to decay. But it was a great day spend with some old and new friends.
It was not until I got home and posted the images on Facebook and started to get feedback from people that it struck me how much I am gained from this trip. I am not talking about my photographic skills, every time I shoot they improve. I am talking about what I am learning about the city and area I grew up in. I returned to St. Louis to earn my MBA after living and shooting in New York City among other places for the last 15 plus years and I really wanted to reconnect with the people and places in STL.
My co-work, Scott posted a blog on retouching where he talks about why he loves it. As he puts it, “listening to the stories behind the photographs”. Well when I posted I received replies about the photographic aspects of my images which is all nice and good, but it’s the few replies from people who went to “that church” or grew up right down the street that I really enjoy reading about. They fill in the stories behind the buildings, parks, and other cool locations in the posted photos.
As I was thinking about this I went back to look at some of my other posts. I went to Jerome Mo to shoot the river that flows through there. Just as a whim. Right outside of town I saw the Larry Baggett’s Trail of Tears Memorial. As a descendant of a great grandmother who was forced to march from her home in Kentucky out west on the trail, I found it personally interesting and inspiring that someone out of their own conviction made this memorial.
So I tried to capture it as best as I could and posted it in a Facebook group that focuses on lost and forgotten Missouri places. Again, I received some nice comments on the photo’s, but I was also schooled in not only the history of the memorial, but also on city of Jerome, Route 66, and Fort Leonard Wood. Stories and history I and others who follow in that that group would have never of known.
This living history may have never of been shared if I had not gone out and shoot, then share with others. I surely would not have learned about the history of these places or hear the personal story from someone who had their first communion in what is now a falling down church. I also would not have learned about other places in Missouri like the rich number of old water powered mills we have in the Ozarks or the old Ha Ha Tonka hotel on the Lake of the Ozarks.
So go out and explore and learn. Take lots of photo’s and share with others. You may learn far more about the places you go, or you may help teach others about these places. Most of all, be safe, have fun and take lots of photos.