How did you get connected with shooting this series, and how did you ultimately choose to spin it?
I was approached by an agent that was interested in doing a book with me so I wanted to find a relevant theme that tied into what I was already shooting. We had been traveling around (we used to call it "picture hunting") looking for interesting industrial landscapes to photograph for a couple of years and realized that focusing on the re-use of space and material was a smooth transition. The project is titled "American Reclamation" and that got me started shooting a paper mill, two electronic recycling plants, and a cement factory at the beginning. In 2007, I was out scouting for another project and I spotted the barge in Bayonne now loaded with old NYC subway cars. Trains have always been a passion of mine and when I found out these were being used to create artificial reefs it was a perfect fit for both me and the project itself
Do you dive?
What are the technical aspects of shooting the cars while dumped into the waters?
I had to shoot at a high shutter speed to freeze the cars in motion and also needed to keep myself fluid to absorb the movement of the boat.
What have you learned in the three year period it took to shoot this series? How does that period compare to the first time you shot the cars?
I made my selects showing different moments of the cars meeting their new home. One of my favorites is titled "shallow". The car is frozen and about to hit the water. I've always imagined it to be that narcissistic moment of the car looking at its own reflection about to fall. Each time I went out I was searching for the moment that I hadn’t captured previously. One of my other favorites is titled “splash”, where I had asked them to throw it off at a little more of an angle to change the mood. I think it worked out pretty well.
Your other series are also all about industrial life. How did you get started in this genre of photography?
I have been shooting landscape work for 25+ years. I went through a number of generations of being a photographer with nudes, photo illustration, fashion, and travel. That all lead me to the licensing model where I worked with image agencies for ten years shooting and producing work for magazines, commercial clients, and image libraries. After a trip to Niger my creative director suggested that I should go shoot some more landscapes that had a industrial feel to them. In 2007, I had a solo exhibition of that work and ended up meeting the book agent.
All Images courtesy of Stephen Mallon and Front Room Gallery. The image “Dont do this” (shown on the article cover) will be featured along with other work by Mallon in the solo exhibition “Patterns of Interest” at NYU’s Kimmel Galleries from Feb. 6 to March 15.