Friday, October 19, 2012

Poem Photos of Rockford, Illinois By Thomas L. Vaultonburg

With the availabilty of high quality digital cameras at a cheap price, there's no reason everyone can't consider themselves a photographer. But I don't. 

I take lousy pictures. Doesn't matter if I'm using a disposable camera, a Kodak Instamatic, or the most expensive camera in the world, my pictures turn out crummy. Which is why it's fortunate for me I live in Rockford, Illinois. With few exceptions the entire town is gray, forsaken, and decayed. There is a contingent of ruin porn artists in Rockford who seek to romanticize the decay by insisting that from the right angle, with the right lighting, and with a few digital enhancements it all looks very beautiful. And I guess on certain days and if you know the history of what you're looking at it can on occasion, but even that requires a transformative leap of faith.

To me Rockford on my daily walks to the dollar store, the bus station, or Mead's Meat Market always seems to look exactly the way I picture it in my heart: cold, gray, and forsaken. My series of Poem Photos is my attempt to capture how I see my home town through a juxtaposition of words and images. These are actual places and signs with no alterations either editorally or digitally. This is what I think Rockford looks like...

The roof caved in at The Midway Theater this Spring after a deadbeat slumlord of an owner allowed the structure to rot until it was beyond repair. This is what it really looks like. 


Greenwood Cemetery. It was a cold and gray day when we took these picture. Ella, the eight year old noticed that there was an entire section filled with children who all seemed to die in 1918 and I explained to her that the Spanish Flu wiped out 10% of everyone that year. 



The Rockford Chamber of Commerce is always trying to increase tourism and business opportunities for local businesses. After walking under this banner proudly displayed on the State Street bridge I would often wonder why it never seems to work. 


But at Clee's Beauty Supply they seem to have the right idea about how to finally solve Rockford's image problem.