Left Behind

PhotographerJoseph Stanek
PrizeHonorable Mention

It's no secret that after the 2008 economic crash, foreclosed and abandoned homes have become an issue in the United States. As a real estate professional that specializes in these properties, I often find myself in vacant homes, among abandoned items, allowing me to look back at the lives of those who once lived there. Through Left Behind, I explore unique items that homeowners have abandoned. The items need not be of monetary value, but serve as an adjective in the story that was the home. Once left behind, these items have a limited lifespan. They most assuredly will be discarded in the trash-out of the property as it is prepared for sale to new owners. As you read this, undoubtedly most of these items have already been tossed away, and because of this, the story you choose to attach to each item cannot be proven to be wrong...

About Photographer

I am a self-taught photographer based out of Buffalo, NY. Peter Lik’s work is what inspired me to invest in my first DSLR, and his work still amazes me to this day. I started by thinking that landscapes would be my one and only love, but over the years my photography has evolved. I have found myself drawn to subjects that are in ‘disrepair’ or unappealing at a quick glance. Living in Buffalo, a rust-belt city, there is no shortage of this imagery. Old steel factories and grain elevators that are in decay are often overlooked or criticized by the public. I feel that if I can take one of these subjects, that most people don’t like looking at, and turn it into a piece of art that someone wants to hang on their wall, I have done something special. This approach to my work took another step in 2012 as I traveled to South Africa twice. I spent time in of the Townships of the Western Cape and took the same effort in trying to create art out of something that is unattractive on the surface. I found myself in some of the most destitute places on earth, yet meeting some of the nicest, most inspiring and beautiful people…ever! I tried to convey my experience with my photography, create beautiful images, and perhaps draw some attention to important issues all at the same time. 2014 brought out a whole new series, Left Behind, where I explore an issue closer to home – the housing crisis. This series presents the items left after occupants have vacated their homes. The items, not of monetary value, give the viewer a portrait of the people that once lived there.