Ghost Town, USA 2015
For reasons I struggle to articulate, I have always been drawn to ghost towns. But having fulfilled this desire, I have been disappointed in the reality because invariably the lure of tourism has necessitated some immediately obvious modernity in the architecture. There are, however, a few villages from the gold rush in America that remain as they were left and after exhaustive field work, I found the best final frontier ghost settlement imaginable. I cannot reveal the destination for obvious reasons, but I persuaded the local government to open up the fenced off historic site for me.
It was a treasure trove of artifacts from 100 years ago – and best of all, there was a railway station and an abandoned carriage. Inside the carriage there was a surreal canvas on which to tell a story – snow on the rotten seats, broken windows and a central corridor strewn with the remnants of decades of decay.
On my first reconnaissance to the site, I saw the possibility of telling a story, but in a dreamy creative moment I thought I might need a wolf and some brave girls. It took some time to get all the logistics in place and I then needed the support of some talented and adventurous locals. We needed to shoot early for the light to be right and for the temperature to drop well below freezing – the wolf’s breath makes such a difference to the story within the picture and would not have been possible after the light and temperature had risen.
I am proud of this shot largely as it is difficult to know how it could be bettered. It is a reward for homework and logistical precision, but it is also testament to the animal handling skills of two people that were in the carriage that the lens could not see. This image will never, ever, be recreated.