Rural Decay Exploration, Structure 1.100

Rural Decay Structure 1.166
Abandon one room house in the woods on a rainy day

Perhaps a little known fact about me is I really love the unique beauty of urban decay. In the south, as is the case virtually all over the world, you see abandon buildings, houses, and various different structures that are being reclaimed by nature. You’ve heard of “urban decay photography,” sometimes referred to as urban exploration, urbex, or UE, which is the exploration of those various places, but you rarely hear of “rural decay” exploration. Probably because most people don’t live in the rural backwoods of wherever, they live in the city.

For those of us who do spend most of our days in the rural south, little abandon houses, barns, sheds, and all kinds of structures are literally everywhere. Sometimes you have to look pretty hard because they have been completely reclaimed by the trees like the first image above. Barely visible from the road, it was probably once a small house sitting on the road on the way to town. Today it’s being consumed by the land.

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Alabama Rural Ministries Make a Difference Day :: Photos

Make a Difference Day with ARM

Make a Difference Day was this past Saturday which was a mission work day on several houses in the rural Alabama area.  A group of volunteers from our church sponsored work on one of the houses and everyone was blessed to be around and help a family in Hurtsboro.   According to Alabama Rural Ministries:

In all, you worked on five homes and one group helped with renovations at a site where we house work teams. You were spread out from Hurstsboro into Loachopoka. We had 55 people working for a total of 275 work hours. Pretty incredible.

Pretty incredible indeed.  For most of us, we did what we do best.  I tried to document the day through images, Josh opened his ears and intently listened to the Randolph’s life (while his son entertained), and Andi and a bunch of volunteers labored.  To read more details about the day, please jump over to Andi’s blog see her post, Make a Difference Day. I tried to just pick one image that would tell the story but could only narrow it down to three images (see my previous rant called How to Tell a Story with a Series of Photos or Make Conclusions with a Snapshot.  Which one is your favorite?  Which one tells the story the best?

To see the entire shoot, go to the Make a Difference Day gallery.

Make a Difference Day with ARM

Make a Difference Day with ARM

Make a Difference Day with ARM

After we left on Saturday questions started flooding my mind, especially with the title for the day.  Did we “make a difference”?, but it was more than that.  What did the Randolph’s who owned this house think about this bunch of white people (I say that as a matter of fact, yes, we are white) that invaded their home, dirtied up their house, showed up with tools from Home Depot that cost more than their car and watched a guy holding a camera the size of a bazooka snapping shots all over the place (I couldn’t imagine someone coming into my house and just shooting at will).

Was Christ represented, did His light show through us, and did we, through our Lord, make a difference in the Randolph’s life?  Did we judge them for how they live because they appear to live a different life than most of us here in Auburn?

Part of the problem and the flaw in my thinking is how I looked at the house, and the family members it represented, and that was from an earthly perspective.  What we here in this country hold dear, the material items, what can we buy to make our lives better, will fade away some day, and we will be left with the same soul we came into this world with and nothing else.  The Randolph’s were gracious, kind, and happy to be living in a quiet peaceful area of Alabama, with almost none of the things us city folks expect as part of our standard of living, and I thank them for blessing me on Saturday by inviting me into their home.

Let me know which image you think represents the day the best.  Perhaps none of them, but I really think the first image needs a caption in the comments… “ever get the feeling you are surrounded”.

Helping Alabama Rural Ministries Building a New Deck

Daughter and her kitten

Getting ready to use the hammer

Power saw for cutting wood

Today I went to shoot some of the youth working with the Alabama Rural Ministries (ARM), where they were working to build a deck and wheelchair ramp for a house a little ways outside Auburn. I realized when I got there that I had the easy job, to shoot the action.

The rest of the group was digging holes in the ground for a foundation beams and putting up deck supports. The project will be completed by the Alabama Rural Ministries people, the Cornerstone youth were there today to help, and help they did in a big way.

The first image is the daughter of the house who’s cat just had kittens and she was holding one of them in the shade while she watched the workers go about their business. I love the expression on her face. Both the mother and the daughter were the kindest people, they both even put up with me taking their photograph.

You can see the final edit of the shoot here. Photographically, this was one of the best groups of kids I have had a chance to shoot in a while. Everyone was so happy to be there and working and it showed in their faces.

House Construction Can Make You Go Insane, Quickly

I’ve been accused of being a very patient person…….but, my patience is wearing pretty thin these days when it comes to house construction. So, pardon me while I rant a little. This will probably be the only time you hear me complain about the house construction, but I have to let it out or explode. So here goes.

We began building this house in January, 2006. It is now mid-October and we are still waiting for it’s completion. Apparently, if you build a house out in the country the contractors don’t like to come out to work. Go figure…. At the rate at which the house is being built we will be lucky to be moved in by Christmas 2007!!

Every day we make the 30 minute drive out to the house to check on progress and every day there is one more thing done. This would generally be considered to be a good thing, however, the one thing completed is usually a lightbulb being screwed in or a cabinet (singular) being installed. If you follow the dates of the photographs you will understand what I am talking about. The following photos reflect an entire month’s progress on this house and I am photographing every thing that is being done. This is why there have been no photo updates of the house lately. I now have enough photos collected of house progress to compile into a couple of entries. Here is the first entry (September’s work) of completed work, or partial completion as is more the case these days. These photos are ones I took up to September 27, 2006.

Paint on the Walls
The entire house is painted in Sherwin Williams “Kilm Beige”, with “Extra White” for all ceilings and master bath walls. Only the downstairs powder room and the upstairs bath have walls of a different color.

Paint on walls downstairs (9-5-2006)

Cutie pie!

Paint and trim on stairs.

Cabinets Installed
In keeping with the spirit of a simple and clean style throughout the house the cabinets are all natural wood poly coated. We wanted the wood to show in the cabinets and floors so there is no stain involved in either process, just poly coating.

Kitchen Cabinets (9-7-2006)

Powder Room Cabinet (also paint color)

Master Bath Cabinet

Scott’s Built-in Bookcase

Upstairs Bath Cabinet (also paint color)

Deborah’s Built-in Bookcase

Lighting and Fans
The lighting and ceiling fans we had installed were as simplistic and unobtrusive (gaudy) as we could possibly find. The two areas in the house that we opted for some type of design was the lighting fixtures in the two full bathrooms and the ceiling fan in the great room. We both really liked this fan and thought it’s design went well with the natural theme of the house.

Great Room Ceiling Fan (isn’t it great?!)

Master Bath Laminate and Lighting (9-26-2006)

Wall Sconces on the Staircase

Fans on the Patio

What’s this? A septic system?
We arrived on 9-27-2006 to find a monster of a tractor behind the house. The septic system was being installed. Whoo-Hoo!! The septic contractor was super nice and couldn’t understand why he hadn’t been called much earlier to put in the system. Like most of the other sub-contractors we have talked to so far. Again, go figure…..


Cleared Area for Septic


There must have been some kind of lull in the sub-contractors world this week because the same day the septic was installed the tile guy came out and put in the kitchen countertop tile. While he was there he also laid the tile for the hearth that is actually a pad for the woodburning stove we are installing. We designed the hearth ourselves and drew it on the floor with a pencil for him to fill in. He did a great job!

Kitchen Tile (9-27-2006)

Kitchen Tile

Natural Light in Kitchen

Kitchen Bar Tile


Master Bath Tile

Upstairs Bath Tile

We stood at the front entry for a while after the electricians had been putting in lighting and studied the front entry lights. If you look closely, they are not level, not even close. You know how sometimes things get so frustrating that you just have to laugh or you are going to cry? Well that is how I felt when I saw those lights. We just both started shrugging our shoulders and laughing. What’s next???????

Construction on our House Finally Continues // Sheetrock is Great

It has been quite a while since there has been an update on the house construction. There is a good reason for this. There has been none. The time period between the framing and any other activity has seemed like an eternity.  Every time we actually get someone out to work on the house, it is great.  They work fast, their work looks great, but then when they are done, that’s it.  Sometimes we are waiting two weeks or more between one job and the next, waiting for contractors to show up and do the next step.  We now have real walls and the first stage of the trim is done.  Now we wait on the painters to put on the first interior coat of paint, so the cabinet maker can come in, so the floor can be installed, so…….

Here are some new photos of the progress to date.  At the moment the inside looks like a mess but we were so thrilled to see walls when we got over here today, and sheet rock is a great thing to see.  This is August.  We gave our builder the plans to build the house in January.  At times I don’t feel like we are building a 1200-1600 square foot house, but a 10,000 square foot house because of how complicated everything seems to get when you try to get someone out here and actually work.

We have walls!

Window at top of stairs, unframed.

Window at top of stairs, framed.



View from Deborah’s office with framed windows.

View from Scott’s office with framed windows.

View from Scott’s office with framed windows.

Construction on the Frame Continues with Second Floor

The top floor is framed, wrapped and now has a roof. Here are some photos of what has been done in the past week and a half.

Front of the house, screened patio is on the right side.

Back of the house, screened patio is on the left side.

Front of the house again with the initial roof structure in place.

Side of the house looking into the screened porch, into the master bedroom and living room.

Front of the house with the roof on.

Back of the house with the roof on. The top right window is my office window. and the bottom left window is the master bedroom.

The Frame and Foundation Have Been Laid for the House

Well, it has begun, at least. The slab was poured on the 12th (yesterday) and the framing of the downstairs began today. It is incredible how fast this is going right now. Scott expects it to come to a screeching halt when some glitch inevitably pops up. For now, we are pleased that it is going smoothly and quickly. Enjoy.

The house slab is poured and is being smoothed out. Waiting on the final load of concrete for the garage.

The truck arrives.

Pouring the final load into the garage.

Front of the house looking head on into the front door.

Front corner of the house and garage.

Opposite corner of the house where the master bedroom is. Huge windows on both sides of the bedroom will provide a wonderful view. My super cool nephew, Gabriel, stands in one of the windows for scale.