To kick of the Abandonment Issues Series let me introduce you to North Dakota native Devin Graf @durty2shoes. His eye for rural abandons caught my eye quickly and pretty soon I realized I had been wandering through these homes of his for over an hour. His attention to detail and mood make these abandoned homes almost cozy, his tones denote a measure of comfort as he shoots these crumbling, dilapidated beauties.
She’s Mean by Fargon.e.
Thrift Shop by Macklemore
Never Cry Wolf by DarkTimeSunshine
I Don’t Need Love by Evidence
A: Tell me a bit about yourself sir.
D: My name is Devin Graf. I was born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota. I’m 23 years old and currently work in the hospitality industry. I’ve been shooting mobile with the iPhone 4s since January 2012 and started shooting abandonment later that spring.
A: Tell me how you started shooting abandoned places.
D: My interest for abandonment all started when my good friend Nick aka @harvymoon mentioned to me about an abandoned high school located about 20 miles from my home town. I’ve heard about people going there before so it instantly caught my interest. There was just something about that place that made me want to see more of these old decaying places and how they have aged over years of no upkeep. We live in a city that’s not too far from endless miles of farm land. So exploring all this rural area for abandoned homes seemed like a great idea. It’s really unbelievable how many places we have found and keep continuing to find in just one area.
A: What i hear most when people find out I shoot abandoned places they ask about trespassing. Whats your take on it?
D: I guess my justification for trespassing would have to be that I have never broken in anywhere to take photos. If a place is locked up or is made obvious that whoever owns this property absolutely doesn’t want anyone there I will simply turn around and walk away. I wouldn’t want any trouble from something as harmless as just looking around and taking photos. I look at it as art and I stress that to everyone that asks me what my thoughts are when it comes to trespassing at these old abandoned homes.
A: To date what has been your favorite discovery?
D: I really had to think hard about this one. Old homes are definitely my favorite type of discoveries, but there has been so many amazing and unique homes I’ve explored that it’s hard to decide on just one. But besides that I guess I would have to say an abandoned church in eastern ND. It’s the only one that I have ever got the chance to explore. It was just really awesome to see the sun beaming though the stained glass windows and to look around at everything was left behind.
A: Is there a site somewhere else you would like to visit one day?
D: Some day I’d love to make it way up north towards the border to a place called San Haven. It was a former tuberculosis sanatorium that later on became a home for the mentally disabled. This site has been abandoned since 1989 and was so huge that they gave the area its own zip code. I’ve seen a few photos of this place and it just looks absolutely insane because of the amount of buildings and underground tunnels there are at this location.
A: If you could give one tip for people who want to start exploring what would it be?
D: One tip I would give to people who want to start exploring is safety. Many things go along with this such as, never explore alone, don’t explore places if you have the slightest concern about any trouble that may occur from being at such a place, and if you do this on a regular basis make sure you have the proper respirators so you don’t get any long-term effects from any harmful materials that have been left behind.
A: How has having a camera that doubles as a phone every once in a while changed the way you shoot or view your surroundings?
D: It’s really awesome actually. I was never involved with taking photos or owned a camera until I got my iPhone. So to me it’s just much more convenient to have something small in my pocket rather than a bulky camera that I may not even have with me if I see something that catches my eye. Plus now days they have all kinds of lenses and tripods I can use with my iPhone which in my opinion gives me endless possibilities for capturing many different types of scenes.
A: Who are a couple of photographers you draw inspiration from?
D: It’s hard to pinpoint just a couple of photographers that inspire me because there’s just so many talented people out there. I would have to say that my two good friends @harvymoon and @yelenaa__ are a huge inspiration to me because a main topic of conversation always seems to be photography and editing photos. A couple more well-known guys out there would definitely be @mrevidence and @tonydetroit. I’ve seen their work since my start on instagram and it’s always been so unique and on point.
Thank you Devin for allowing us to walk with you through these homes and for being our first artist in the series.