“I have over 20 acres of these here old, rusty cars and you can photograph them, but I don’t know why you would” says the junkyard owner. “Take all the time you need and call me when you’re finished” he says as I grab my camera gear, pull on my hiking boots and set off to see what treasures I can find.
What is so intriguing about an old car, rusting away covered with briars and brambles? Is it the sleek lines, the pitted hood ornament, or remnants of a rumble seat? Or is it the people and stories behind their beloved automobile? I believe it’s all of this and more.
As I wander the back roads of North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky, I constantly search for that rusty car or truck in the field and wonder how to capture its spirit. I see more than a pile of rusted, twisted metal, broken glass and faded paint. But will my camera capture what I see; will it capture the life that the car once had? The camera can only capture a moment in time and with the click of the shutter I have preserved that moment. But is that enough for me? No, it’s not, and I need to know more.
I spot an old car in the weeds and the owner tells me it was the car he and his wife drove to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon. He has that glint in his eye and love in his heart of those memories that he will always cherish. It doesn’t matter that the car is beyond repair, that the years have taken its toll on the chrome, or that his wife has passed on, it’s the memories that will always be there in his soul.
Or is it the gentleman that tells me the best part of the old cars was the back seat! I had to think about that for a minute and then we both chuckled. You see, it’s not always about the car. I’m sure we all remember our first car; I know I do. My father taught me to respect my car; he taught me how to check the oil and even how to change a tire. My father has passed on but I will never forget the endless hours he spent teaching me to drive, not to mention the trips to the Los Angeles airport just to watch the planes land and take off, but we were together as a family.
Today when I set off with my camera on another road trip, my sister is the primary driver and our mother, at the young age of ninety-two, is the look-out. I am in the back seat poised to say, “Stop, turn around and go back, I think I saw something over there in the field.” It may not be anything, but it may be that “diamond in the rough.” What really matters is that I am capturing a moment in time, not only with my camera, but with my heart and soul ... and my family. And that is why I want to photograph old cars.
Barbara J. Sammons (www.barbarasammons.com) is an award-winning photographer and published writer with over 40 years behind the camera. She can be reached at: email@example.com. Her digital photography tells a story; whether it’s an old, rusty car in the weeds or the barn in winter. Her post-processing techniques transform these images into fine art and even "pop art." Each image is processed to enhance the soul or story behind it; as there is always a story to tell. Barbara currently resides in Candler, North Carolina and is a former professional chef, graphic designer, marketing professional and master gardener. She is a member of f/32 Photography Group (Asheville), Carolinas’ Nature Photography Association (CNPA) and the Photographic Society of America (PSA).