So during one of out outings, we went and spent some time at the VOSS Model at Purdue. I saw some equipment at the back of a building and a little light bulb went off, just like what happened during my last major photo documentary project, Train, Bloody Trains: The Trains and Railways of Terre Haute. That was a project where I created a photo documentary of Terre Haute, Indiana’s infamous entanglements of trains, railways, and the traffic headaches associated with getting stuck behind a train. One day while stuck at a train crossing, I said out loud “Stupid trains! Stupid Terre Haute”! Right then, the idea came to me to build a robust photographic project of locations all around the city with each photo geotagged and findable on an interactive map.
So getting back the present, we were at the VOSS model and I’m looking at the backside of a building and some mechanical equipment and I had the same type of epiphany. I would create a similar project, one that I called the Underbelly of Purdue. This project would show photos of the lesser seen places of Purdue University. We drive and walk by these locations all the time, but how much of it do we actually notice? The scope of this project is to artistically illustrate the underbelly of Purdue University, capturing sights you’ll never see in any Purdue social media or marketing material. This includes the external backsides and workings of each building, lesser known hideaways, and different perspectives of popular sights on campus. I strive not to show the “unsightly,” but rather, the beauty of the forgotten and unnoticed parts of campus, the parts that make the place run. My goal is to take at least one photo of every building or formal Purdue structure and do so in an interesting and creative way.
The photo in this post is the very first one in the project. I started behind the Agricultural Administration building and this photo, although not the very first one I snapped, was the first one I used in this project and from that location. I love the symbolism; it is the underside of a metal staircase, or the underbelly of it, if you may.
So how do I do it working full time and managing a family life including a very high-maintenance and active little five-year old? I’ve gone on photo shoots whenever I can squeeze one in; in the evening after the kids go to bed, on my lunch hour, an hour or so here or there on weekends. Thus, I am not always able to shoot at ideal times, those golden hours in the morning or the evenings. I often work in full mid-day sunlight, or late evening shadows. So I try to make the best of what I’ve got to work with which is challenging, but often leads to unexpected pleasant surprises. I will dive into this project again and again in future posts so keep your eyes peeled.