Eric T. Johnson - Square Meals
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Photographers often plan a photograph in their minds long before actually visiting the site with the camera to make the exposure. This was the case with the Waffle Shop, a Washington, DC landmark that I walked by on many occasions. I gradually conceived in my mind the way I wanted to photograph the site: early morning twilight, with the lights inside the building balancing the light on the façade, and a sliver of dark sky at the top to balance the well-worn asphalt street. So I set out early one morning to finally realize this vision, only to find the Waffle Shop was closed. Permanently. After over 50 years in that location, they had closed the week before to make way for a planned redevelopment of the block.
While I was still able to capture a different image of the now-closed Waffle Shop, the experience made the think how we sometimes assume that just because a place has been around for a long time, it will always be there in the future. That is obviously not the case for buildings in a dynamic, urban environment.
The locations depicted in this body of work, currently or at one time markets or restaurants, are seen in various stages in the lifecycle of buildings – some in continuous daily use for years, some adapted to other uses, and some demolished to make way for revitalized neighborhoods. All have retained their unique character that sets them apart from the increasing homogenization of the contemporary landscape. However, these images are not intended to be an indictment of the inevitable progression of the urban landscape, but rather an acknowledgment of the transitory nature of these everyday places.
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