This is probably the first time I’ve let my entire name be on this blog.
When I first started it in 2015, I wanted it to be a showcase for ideas and spiritual stuff I was working on that the time, and I wanted to keep the focus off me.
By that time, I felt like I’d become a kind of brand, and I was still trying to integrate all the disparate parts. I’m still trying.
First, you had Scott Vaughn, the pianist, then Scott Douglas Vaughn, the professional intuitive and, of course, Scott Vaughn, the photographer. I wanted to keep the focus on what I was thinking and learning, and I wanted a place to be able to do that without having to attach my name to it all.
Not that anyone didn’t know it was me.
It’s just that I was feeling a little over-exposed in certain areas of my life and I wanted to experience what it would be like to put my ideas out there without having to worry about where it might fit into the larger picture.
Or something like that.
These could all be delusions of grandeur, you know.
Anyway, this blog was born out of Scott Vaughn 2015.
Scott Vaughn 2018 wants to approach things a little differently.
As almost everyone who knows me knows that I take pictures.
If you follow me on social media, and feel free to, you’ll see that I post my shots of abandoned buildings and found objects. I post the pictures. I post very little in the way of explanation about my work. My idea is that the pictures could speak for themselves and I haven’t worried myself too much about it.
Or, that’s what I say.
Most of the time, to be perfectly honest, I don’t know what my pictures are saying. I know they are saying something. I just choose not to look at my work that way, especially when I’m in the process of creating it.
Today, I spent time with my friend, Brent Page. Brent has family here and comes home a few times a year, and we always get together. He knows me well but he also has the perspective of not using Facebook so much and not seeing me day in and day out. He doesn’t see my photography posts all the often.
Brent has objectivity about me, and I appreciate him for that.
We were at my office downtown, and he was going through some of my prints to pick one to take home with him. His overall assessment of my work was that it’s very dark, sad, depressing and almost scary. It was not a criticism, certainly. Mostly he said this to remark about how that element presented so often in my work is often at odds with the Scott Vaughn he knows and spends time with.
We didn’t go any further with it because we were both in a bit of a hurry but it got me to thinking.
What does my work convey?
What am I trying to say overall with my photography?
And for that matter, how do all my various “works” integrate themselves into the unified person known as me. I’ve tried to keep the pianist and the intuitive and the photographer so separate so long that I am at a loss to explain how all these versions of me inform one another.
Let’s just say, I’m pondering all of that.
I’ve often been asked when I’m talking about my work with someone else what is the deeper significance of this or that?
The photo below comes to mind.
I always called it “Trouble in the Dining Room.” I took it at an abandoned house in my hometown the day my father died in March 2013. Everyone was strung out from all the activity and my mom needed some space to clear her head, so I took my Aunt Barbara along with me and we went exploring in a couple of abandoned houses in the area.
Mostly, my recollection of that day was me trying to get this shot on a very soft floor of a house that seemed to move in the wind. Beyond this door, the floor had caved in to the basement. I wasn’t exactly concerned for my safety but I wasn’t unconcerned either.
I just wanted to get really cool picture.
Other people have seen different things. I’ll let you decide what you see.
I never set out to be a photographer. Until summer 2012, I had absolutely no interest in it whatsoever. In fact, I would have been the least likely person to take pictures of anything. But summer 2012 was very interesting for me.
I call that the summer of my grand spiritual awakening. I won’t go into all the details of that summer, but let’s just say the universe cracked me wide open and set me on a new path for my life and my work.
Up until that point, I was safe in a career as an administrator and teacher at the university I worked at. I was going to probably get a doctoral degree and write scholarly articles about academic advising for professional journals. I wanted to become a consultant for colleges wishing to enhance their academic advising through innovative ideas and programs. I would have been great at it.
But that wasn’t the way things turned out.
Let’s just say, I somehow opened up.
I started taking pictures and I started feeling led to open an office to begin giving intuitive readings to people who were in transitional points in their lives. None of this was part of the plan whatsoever.
I’ll cut through a lot of the story here.
As I began taking pictures and posting them, people seemed to enjoy them.
I go back to my early early work and wonder what in the world anyone saw in that mish-mash of mis-colored, over edited and poorly-composed photographs of things that had seen better days.
Yet, people noticed.
Kate VanHuss was the director of community outreach for the local Earth Fare grocery store, and she sent me a message to get some things together and select the best work and I could hang it in the cafe at the store for the month of November that year. I will always love Kate for that act of grace and vote of confidence in someone who didn’t exactly know what he was doing but was learning as he went.
At any rate, I thought it would be nice to share a little about my photography even though this post isn’t terribly conclusive about anything.
My goal now is to use this blog as a unifying point for all of my various interests and loves.
We’ll see how that works out.
I also thought I’d reprint my Artist Statement which is probably a bit more enlightening where my work is concerned:
From my website, www.scottvaughnphotography.com.
I call the work that I do “nature photography—of a sort.” My work documents the progression of abandonment left to its inevitable result.
Nature taking its course, if you will.
When I walk into an abandoned space, the first thing I do is stop, listen, and feel. Most old buildings still contain the energy of the folks who once resided there. If you listen closely, you can hear it whispering. In so many ways, what you can see is just the beginning; these places also convey that which is beyond the scope of the eye, including the sounds and smells and energies accumulated through time.
My hope is that my work suggests the past by showing the present; indeed, it is important that I document the current state for its own sake. For me, taking in these places is like hearing a snippet of an old, familiar song: you cannot help but continue hearing the rest of the song and re-experiencing the universal and personal circumstances in play when you first heard it.
I am often asked if I feel sad about the conditions I photograph. Though I am sensitive to the energies of the places I visit, sadness is generally not the emotion I feel. Indeed, decay conveys a beauty not found in the conventional aesthetics of a carefully maintained structure. I would describe my experience as not unlike the sense of wonder evoked by the Grand Canyon or Mount Rushmore or Greek ruins—obvious differences in scale aside.
Another common question is how a person might find similar locations where they live. My response is always that once you become consciously attuned to something, you can’t help but find it everywhere. When we are programmed to see only classic beauty, that is often all we will see. But if we expand our awareness to encompass decay and ruin, we will come to see that beauty—exceptional beauty—resides there as well.
For more information about my work or to follow me on social media, check out the following.