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Is It Okay To Love Broken Things?

I was driving down a country road going a bit too fast trying to make it to a destination I had on Google Maps that I had researched months ago. From the corner of my eye, just at those trees you see here to the left, I spotted this house.

I hit the brakes like so many of my fellow photographers have done and shifted into reverse. I had that sudden joy of finding a structure like this with such a stunning Nebraska sky.

I took some pictures and had to leave after only fifteen minutes or so. So I left to get to my real destination (an old 1800’s school a bit away).

People have asked me before why I like finding abandoned places. The answer is always the same: the stories. My imagination soars with stories from these places, and when I find their real histories online and sometimes from neighbors, the concept is always even more enriching and rewarding.

For some reason though, this house has been troubling me. Ever since I first loaded the photos on my computer to sort through, a thought has been nagging at me: did something bad happen here? 

Were these the broken remnants of someone’s garden, mostly lost in a rain of heat and ash? Is it okay to find this place beautiful?

I have no answers for that. While I romanticize about many of these places I find, I still realize that I’m marveling at something left behind. And while some of these places are abandoned for purely logical reasons (the family built a new house), there are other times when tragedy has forced the people to leave. 

I’m still reconciling these feelings, and although I’m 45 years old, I’m still growing and maturing and learning – taking in the world in a way that’s been one of photography’s greatest gifts to my life.