Abandoned Gas Station Rural Spelunking Composite
THE OLD FRONTIER: An abandoned gas station and convenience store along Scenic Drive in Shelby, Michigan.

Some of my photographer friends enjoy urban spelunking, the art of entering old, abandoned buildings and finding beauty in the breakdown. That’s always scared me. The old Packard Plant in Detroit or the derelict Michigan Central Station are best viewed at a distance for me. I think I found my stride, though, when my wife and daughters were taking some fashion photos out in the countryside, about a half hour north of Muskegon.

Frontier Village was never much more than a dive. The gas station and convenience store on the outskirts of Stony Lake never seemed to catch on with the local population or summer visitors. I didn’t feel bad walking around, snapping photos of the old, discarded gaskets and spark plugs or the broken down gas pump with its belts and hoses exposed. I loved seeing the price at the pump frozen at 2.49 a gallon. That was a bit of nostalgia I yearned for.

My wife, daughters and a boyfriend snapped glamorous, well-lit pictures amongst the ruins and they looked quite stunning (the photos and my girls). Something about the abandonment kept me pointing and shooting. I don’t exactly know why I focused on the ugly while they concentrated on beauty. And I really want to say something poetic or meaningful about the abandonment. Maybe there’s something profound to be said about progress and decay. But maybe I was just taking pictures because I like taking pictures.