Cleveland Collaboration

Submitted to Creepy
Uploaded 27 Aug 2010 — 9 favorites
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© Joshua Ball
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Photo Info
UploadedAugust 27, 2010
TakenApril 3, 2010
Exposure8 sec at f/6.3
FlashNo Flash
Focal Length10 mm
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

There is something about urban decay that I find absolutely exciting! I’m not sure if it’s the thrill of the experience or the surreal qualities of the environment, but the exploration of these long forgotten locations incites feelings of fear, adventure and inspiration. I had an amazing opportunity this spring to work with my older brother, Jeff Ball, who has been a huge inspiration to me throughout my journey into photography. Over the course of three weeks, we visited several cities throughout the Midwest in an effort to capture unique imagery that would help illustrate the fall of American industry.

Growing up in the shadow of Detroit, I am intimately familiar with the concept of urban decay. The United States once led the world in manufacturing capability through its shear industrial might. The industrial revolution helped fueled the growth of our nation and assisted in the framing of its infrastructure. However, contemporary concepts like globalization and advances in communication technologies have degraded our industrial might. We now find ourselves competing in a global economy where experience is often trumped by cost.

At its height, Cleveland was once the 5th largest city in The United States. However, the 2000 census revealed that it had slipped into 33rd. It is highly likely that Cleveland has fallen even further in rank. In April, Jeff and I made the decision to drive to Pittsburgh in an attempt to find a few abandoned steel mills. As Cleveland was on the way, it made sense for us to spend a day in the city looking for imagery pertinent to the urban decay project. We spent the majority of the day driving around and shooting the exteriors of buildings that once helped fuel America’s industrial might. As darkness approached, we stumbled across an abandoned structure that was neither inviting nor easy to access. Determined to get a few final images, we parked our vehicle a block away from this structure in an industrial Cleveland neighborhood and walked down a dimly lit street. Unprepared, we slipped through a hole in a barbed wire fence and scoured along the graffiti covered exterior of the building. We found an entry point that required us to crawl under a broken doorway that was littered with trash and broken glass.

One inside the pitch black warehouse, we instantly realized that neither one of us had a flashlight. Night had already fallen and our only light source was the external flash on my camera which we constantly fired in order to navigate the treacherous environment. While it wasn’t raining, we heard the ominous sound of running water somewhere in the depths of the warehouse. This sound never faltered or relented and we figured it was a broken water main somewhere within the structure. We spent a few minutes experimenting with long exposures and strategically fired flashes before we stumbled across the chair in this photograph.

Read the full blog at

10 responses

  • Claire Crocker

    Claire Crocker gave props (27 Aug 2010):

    Gritty, yet I love the twinkling in the background. The lighting and perspective is unique. Wonderful!

  • Richard Bruns

    Richard Bruns said (28 Aug 2010):

    This is a striking image! And you have done what many JPGers seem reluctant to do ... provide a strong backstory. Well done, both photojournalistically and documentarianistically (no such word, I'm thinking) but also with a strong sense of inherent drama and strong photo skills. I'm look forward to more!

  • Lili Perrissin-Faber

    Lili Perrissin-Faber gave props (28 Aug 2010):

    i really appreciate your work, your photos are great

  • Shirley Valencia

    Shirley Valencia   said (29 Aug 2010):

    Awesome synopsis, love this shot.

  • Staffa Adam

    Staffa Adam said (9 Sep 2010):

    This needs to be published in the mag. I can imagine in print, it would be amazing.

    Nice job.

  • Larissa Saenz

    Larissa Saenz gave props (12 Sep 2010):

    This is a captivating perspective. This is a great photograph.

  • Woj

    Woj (Deleted) gave props (21 Sep 2010):

    very cool shot, great story

  • Roberta Lannes-Sealey

    Roberta Lannes-Sealey said (26 Sep 2010):

    Dramatic, breathtaking, eerie! Your work is fantastic!!!

  • Cat Kustes

    Cat Kustes said (7 Jun 2011):

    haunting, love it!

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