Sunday, January 20, 2013

Southern Weeds. Towns, too.

Albemarle, North Carolina

With all the traveling I did this year on the drive-in theater project, and all the "off topic" pictures I was able to make along the way, I got a lot of reinforcement of the notion that some places are absolutely brimming over with picture opportunities, and some places aren't. Perhaps I should say picture opportunities for me, because someone else might have a very different reaction. I seem to be able to tell in the first few minutes. Which doesn't make sense, but it's true. I'm lucky to have several towns within an hour's drive from my home that are rich enough in this way that I can keep returning again and again to find new things. There are other towns in the same area that I try to work in and almost never get anything. I went to Albemarle, of course, because there's a theater on the outskirts of town.

Albemarle, North Carolina

I found it, and on the way saw a decent looking chain motel on the commercial strip, so I went back and got a room, and asked the manager/owner where the actual town of Albemarle could be found. He told me to drive down the strip for so many blocks and then turn left and go about a mile. Before I'd really gotten into the town I knew that this was one of those places where I could spend more or less forever without running out of subjects. A lot of my favorite off-topic pictures from the Giant Road Trip were made during a twenty or thirty minute walkabout that left me feeling: been there, done that, don't need to come back again. Other places, I spent as long as I could and made notes to try to come back again. Albemarle just seemed to have a picture every three or four steps I took.

Albemarle, North Carolina

If you have an aging downtown motel with a giant marquee meant to welcome banquet and wedding parties, it might not be the best idea to tip your hand that you don't even really look like you're still in business.

detail


I walked around the town nearly till dark. Next morning I worked at the Badin Road theater again in different light, and then spent several more hours walking around the town before tearing myself away to move on to the next theater on the list. I want to go back to Albemarle and make more pictures.

4 comments:

gb hill said...

I never knew Albemarle had a drive inn. Nice. There are some neat things to photograph in town,esp. the van with the monster inside. But I'm usually working when I'm in the area & never take time.

Carl said...

Baden Road appears to be the "old highway." Even if you drive right past the commercial strip you'd have to get off the bypass and find the old road to see the theater. Missed the van with monster, though there was a restored 1940s bus in one of the parking lots. Great place for photo walkabout.

gb hill said...

I never get to see the downtown historic district but I enjoy your photos. The monster van is a takeoff on Big Daddy's "Rat Fink" series. It's on the main Hwy 52 about a mile N. of 52/24 intersection. I hope you do get back down this way one day. I live about 1 1/2 hour from Albemarle.

Carl said...

That explains it, I went through from west to east on 24 so I didn't see the monster van. Went through Star on my way to Raleigh, where there was nothing left of the Starlight but a marquee, swap meet, and farmer's market.