This project has its beginnings in my childhood. I used to ride with my dad in his worn Ford pick-up everywhere; on the weekends, we would drive across the city to pick up lumber or maybe just get gas down the street. Sometimes he would talk about his work, and I liked to hear him explain how houses were built. Perhaps this was when I started noticing the old architecture in Pittsburgh.
In high school I discovered Brassai and began to shoot night photography. Since then, I have looked at many other photographers to develop my own style. Todd Hido’s work became a turning point for my night photography, adding confidence and adventure to my work. Robert Frank’s The Americans inspired this project to be my interpretation of Pittsburgh and has helped me search for the legacy of the steel city’s illustrious history that is manifested in the architecture of the past.
At night, it is easier to regress to Pittsburgh’s steel era and imagine how it once looked with smog filling the air, whereas by daylight, there is a certain sense of modernity and technology creeping in from around the edges. The long exposures necessarily invoke movement, which simultaneously references the inhabitants of the city and denies their presence entirely. This dichotomy between urban bustle and desolation is a testimony of the once swarming steel industry and the subsequent decay of a thriving city.
When I think of Pittsburgh, instead of envisioning its skyline and the skyscrapers and bridges downtown, this is what I see. I hope to create a timeless interpretation that encapsulates the character and liveliness of the Steel City.