Updated May 17 – Images now link to larger sizes on my website for better viewing.
I have been waiting months to be able to post these photos. They were part of a photo contest that I entered, and as such I couldn’t share anything until the contest was over. Well, it was over last Wednesday, and I’m now ready to share them. Back in November of last year I was alerted to a photo contest that was taking place at the historic 701 Whaley building here in Columbia, SC. My friend and fellow photographer Rob Coffey tweeted me about this contest, and I would have never heard about it otherwise, so a big thanks to Rob for the heads up! This was right up my alley – a semi-abandoned building in its natural state, the perfect place to shoot HDR to bring out the wonderful details that are found in such a place. The 701 Whaley Phase 2 project involves the renovation of the old gym and pool that are found behind the main building. Most people are probably unaware that these structures even exist, as they are tucked away behind the main building and only accessible by a little-used side road. The gym has been used as a machine shop for the past few years and as such is full of dirt, dust, and equipment that was left there when the shop moved a few months back. The pool is in even worse shape – the ceiling has collapsed into it, and nature has taken over. There are trees and vines growing out of the pool floor and along the sides. It really is a sight to see! After the initial visit to familiarize the photographers with the structures last November, it was left up to each photographer to set up a time to come shoot it. I didn’t get a chance to shoot until February, but everything looked pretty much the same as I had seen it before. I was so excited to get in here and have my turn shooting this place!
The dirt, the cracks in the walls, the machinery and wiring, and the overgrowth and debris in the pool were all a perfect subject for my style of photography. This place is just a wonderland for a photographer interested in this kind of subject. The contest was brought about because the staff at 701 wanted to capture the space as it is before they renovate it, starting later this year. It is not going to be torn down, but rather it will be updated and made into a space that the public can enjoy. 701 Whaley is a community center complete with live/work spaces for artists, office space, art galleries, and rooms available for events. They will be expanding into this old space in the future. In the Phase 2 project there are 2 separate spaces that are part of the renovation, the old gym and a pool. Phase 1 of the 701 Whaley project saw the main building refurbished, and was completed a few years ago.
I took second place in the contest, in case you’re wondering. The first place winner was Catie Martin, who also loves the small details in abandoned buildings, and I commend Catie for her great work here. Congratulations also to Dalvin Spann, the third place winner, for his innovative use of models in the space. There were a total of 10 finalists that were invited to shoot the old buildings. At the end of the contest we got to see all of the work from the other photographers, and there was not a bad photo in the bunch. Everyone produced excellent work, and I was proud to be among such a fine group of photographers. There were really no rules, and it was up to the photographer’s discretion as to how and what to shoot in here, so everyone put their own take on the space. This was an honor and a treat to get to photograph these buildings before the renovation, as not many people will ever see it in this state again. What remains of the old, will live on in our photographs.
Here is what I saw.
As you can see, I was definitely more inspired by the gym space than I was by the pool. There also was more to explore in the gym, as it was a larger space, and there were so many wonderful details to capture there. This shoot was incredible, and I’m so honored to have been chosen to help document this place before the renovation. I hope you enjoyed the adventure as much as I did.