The Broken Down and Forgotten


All across the nation, we are constantly faced with the fact that our economy is failing. This can be seen through the growing amount of lost businesses and homes. For this photo essay, I wanted to bring attention to what happens after these once booming businesses and occupied homes have been left behind. In order to do this, I have traveled to a variety of locations in South Jersey and captured photos of the different types of destruction these buildings now face.

Throughout this essay, you will see a once booming Friendly’s restaurant located in Turnersville, New Jersey; an old computer repair shop located in Blackwood, New Jersey; and an old WaWa located in Sicklerville, New Jersey, after they were each closed down. Photos of the buildings truly crumbling in on themselves from the lack of upkeep, signs covered in vines after being left on the ground, and torn apart gates protecting back entrances are just a few examples of the photos that can be found within to show just how run-down these businesses are now.

In regards to the abandoned homes, I have captured a variety of photos from two locations; one of which is in Winslow, New Jersey, and the other in Blackwood, New Jersey. Through these photos, you will be able to see exactly what has happened to the overall structure of these buildings that used to be considered a home to a variety of people. Images of broken windows, fire damage, graffiti tags, and knocked down mailboxes are just a few representations of this ruin.

As you, the audience, look through this photo essay, I hope that you are hit with a new appreciation for what happens to businesses and homes such as these after they have closed down or been foreclosed on.


Down the Rabbit Hole

By: Denia R Martinez


Gambling. Some people see it as a fun way to pass the time while on vacation, others as a profession; but there are those few…million people who do become addicted to gambling. Gambling addiction is one of the hardest addictions to overcome with the highest suicides rates because it is completely mental. It is literally mind over matter.

But whose fault is it that people get addicted? Is it in someone’s genetic make-up to become addicted to the slots, or doubling down on blackjack or playing the ponies? How are casinos making it so that people will come in and put down their hard-earned money and waste it away on the chance, the very slight chance that they might make it big? People have tunnel vision when it comes to gambling. It’s all about the next big score or they just need to get their luck back. And if they lose their money, well they can just acquire more in order to “win their money back.” (If I had a dollar for every time I heard that I wouldn’t have student loans.)

Casinos… with their bright lights, free drinks (if you are playing on the slots or tables), easy access to your cash (for a fee) and their incentives to go from a red label card (no perks, only comp dollars) to the black label card (free parking, shorter lines, exclusive lounge) to the titanium card (free parking, an even more exclusive  & upscale lounge, and higher level room accommodations) that would have most people be all about getting to the next level.

Casinos do make it as easy as possible for people to be able to access their money from ATMs, to check cashing, and cash advance (all three for a fee) or depending on certain criteria they can apply for a credit line that is connected to their personal checking account (no fees). And once you see how it is to borrow money, you keep doing it. And if you run out, then you ask for a little more, then a little more until you increase your line so high and lose so much money that you go bankrupt. In the 6 years that I have worked at Borgata, I have seen it happen countless of times.


Kelci and Conner Throughout the Years

I had a very difficult time coming up with a subject for this photo essay that would have a deep meaning. I wanted to invest myself in a topic I was passionate about and a point I would like to share with my class. I am fascinated with people and emotions, and one subject kept coming back into my head. I wanted to explore the relationship between my younger brother and I. My parents divorced and my father remarried when I was almost two. He and his new wife gained custody of me and even though she was not the woman who gave birth to me, she became my mom. When I was four years old my parents asked me what I wanted more than anything in the whole world. I told them a bike. About 7 months later, I still didn’t have a new bike, but I had a new baby brother. I was so in love with my baby brother, wanting to be with him every minute, to watch over him and keep him safe. My little brother, Conner, is now 17 and even though he towers over me I can still say the same thing is true. Conner is truly my best friend in the entire world and that is what I wanted to portray through my photo essay. My goal is to show in the 17 years that have passed and been captured on film, together Conner and I have experienced countless heartbreaks, accomplishments, tragedies, and celebrations. However, through it all nothing in our relationship has changed- it has only been made stronger. My intent was to put the pictures from the past, next to my remade photographs of Conner and I in order to show the passing of time. I wanted to show that although time passes in the blink of an eye, it is wonderful to be able to look back at old photographs and reminisce.

That Rare Moment

This post is inspired by:

When I saw this picture a certain thought came to mind. I have never seen Rowan with such light snow on the ground. This photograph is a picture of a beautiful scene where the snow just lightly blankets the ground. This got me thinking about how often it is we take pictures in a moment and not realize how rare of a chance it is to capture such a picture.

I mentioned in a previous post how pictures are used to capture a moment or a memory. However, most people often take a picture and eventually forget about them at some point? Why is this? Most of the time it is because people take so many pictures now a days that those singular pictures of rare moments are forgotten.


This is a picture I took earlier this year. I believe this was a rare moment in my life because I got to get up close to a real live wolf. How often do people get to say that? How often do we get to see a picture where the ground is beautifully covered in snow with grass popping out from just underneath?

However, this makes me question the fact that is taking a picture of a rare moment really worth it? I wonder because sometimes I think that taking a picture in such beautiful scenery ruins the moment. To be honest I am one who does not take many pictures. I have never been into making heavy use of my camera. However, the few times I have made use of my camera I had realized one thing. My camera was taken out, but never put away.

Have you ever noticed that? Whenever you take your phone out to take a quick picture, one picture,


which turns into two pictures,


then three pictures?


I’ve noticed it. I feel like a camera even though meant to capture a moment also ruins a moment. Like instead of starring at beautiful scenery, you see it through a lens. Instead of enjoying time with my family I am posing multiple times for photos.

I feel in this day and age we feel excessive need to take a picture of every fleeting moment. However, I believe a clear memory of that fleeting moment is much better than a picture. A picture captures the sight of a moment. However, does it capture the experience of a rare moment?

Think back to the last rare moment you had. Whether it be something like you watched your little cousin take their first few steps. It could be something like you saw a beautiful sunset. Maybe saw a form of wild life you never saw before. imagine the elation and excitement you have. The experience of seeing it for the first time. Now, while in that elated moment you suddenly pull out the camera and pour all your focus into that perfect shot. Congrats, you just traded the elation for a freeze frame.

I believe that in this day and age we are compelled to take pictures of everything. You have people taking pictures of themselves doing the most random of things. You see a variety of photos online that seem to have no meaning behind them at all. I believe that when we are focused on capturing that rare moment we miss the chance to truly enjoy a moment.

What do you think? Do you think your camera ruins the moment? Do you think taking a picture adds to the experience of a rare moment at all?

In my opinion we all need to just put down our camera and stop focusing on capturing rare moments. I think rare moments should be enjoyed with your own eyes instead of a lens. I have a lot of memories in my head that remind me of all the great times I had. My eyes have always enjoyed just taking in the moment. I never needed a camera to create or catch a memory. I just remember the fun and joy I have in that moment and I think that memory gives me more than a photo could ever hope to give me. Not once have I ever looked back at a photo and remembered the full experience of the image it captured. It’s difficult to capture a full moment with a picture because you do not capture all the senses. you do not capture the sounds or smells you have at the time of the picture. You only capture an image, but not the experience itself. So, i believe we need to put down the cameras and use our eyes instead of a lens to take a picture of the scenes we come across in everyday life.

Is Photography an Art?

This post is inspired by Victor Burgin’s “Looking at Photographs”

While reading Burgin’s article “Looking at Photographs” an interesting question came to mind. I began to wonder if photography is truly a form of art.

The main function of art is to be a form of expression. Everyday we use various methods to express our feelings. Some of these methods consist of singing, drawing, painting, acting, and even writing. All these art forms consists of expressing oneself in a unique manner that relates directly to the artist themselves. However, is photography an art?

Bergin says “The significant structures which early semiotics found in photography are not spontaneously self generated, they originate in determinate modes of human organization.”

Unlike the art forms mentioned above, photography does not really allow one to express themselves with their own personal method. Photography is not a self generated image, but a captured image. A photo is not a creation of one’s own design, but an image taken by a camera. It is different from a painting where one gives physical form to their emotions in the form of what they paint. Photography seems to be more used for catching a moment or memory instead of expressing oneself.

When performing a form of art, how do you feel? When you paint do you feel like you paint out your emotions with each brush stroke? When you act, do you feel your various forms of emotions create the character you play? When you write, do you feel your words speak the emotions you cannot say out loud?

Art seems to always have an emotional feedback to the artist. It serves a purpose of expressing emotions that cannot be expressed in words alone. When you take a photograph, does photography give you some form of emotional feedback? When you take a picture of something randomly beautiful, do you do it to have a memory of the beautiful sight or because of the artistic value?


Above is a picture I took at an Earth festival. It is a picture I took of a wolf. I did not feel any form of expressionism when taking this picture. the only thought in my mind was “Cool, a wolf” snap. I only took that picture because it was the first time I saw a wolf. I was not expressing myself in any way or form. The other thing that makes me wonder if photography is an art is another picture I took of that same wolf.


The two pictures look almost identical, right? That is because they are identical! They are almost if not exactly the same. these two pictures are two completely different photos taken within five seconds apart from each other. I cannot tell the difference. That is because photos can be pretty much reproduced. I wonder how many people took almost the same exact picture as I did. Photos have no unique form of emotion to them. They completely detach the artist from the viewer. Certainly a photo can be beautiful or have meaning but once again is it art?

What is art to you? Is it something beautiful to look at? Is it an image or form of expression that holds meaning to you? What does a photo do for you?

The definition of art is the conscious use of the imagination in the production of objects intended to be contemplated or appreciated as beautiful, as in the arrangement of forms, sounds, or words.

If I were to say my opinion I believe photography is not an art. Honestly I believe photography is not a form of art, but a form of capturing a memorable moment. Whenever I take a photo it is done by reflex. Like the definition says art requires you to use your imagination. That use of imagination allows you to figure out how to express a variety of your emotions in different shapes or forms. However, where is the imagination in photography? When you look at my photo above, what do you think? You think it’s a wolf right? Where is the imagination in that?

The imagination is a wondrous thing all humans have. Imagination allows us to access fantasies within our minds and make creations based off this fantasy like thoughts or emotions. That imagination can be seen and felt in all forms of art. Take a poem for example. When you read a poem you often find yourself asking what does the poem mean? What meaning does the poem have? What was the author feeling s he wrote the poem? However, the experience of looking at a photo lasts but a moment long. One does not ask a lot of the questions I just listed. They do not try to put their own form of imagination on the photo to create their own image of what they are looking at. Instead they just figure out its a picture and go to look at the next picture.

Nature Vs. The Human Footprint: Photo Essay


The goal of my photo essay is to demonstrate how something as beautiful as nature is being impacted by the human footprint. Many of us overlook the beautiful sunrise that occurs in the early morning, and turn a cold shoulder to the countless amount of trees being cut down to build yet another building complex. We are loosing sight of the beauty that we are stealing from our world just for the sake of our wants. I want to show how if we continue on in this manner how it will be ultimately devastating for our future generations. What beauty will they look forward to seeing if there is no natural beauty left?

Something many of us forget is how untouched nature actually appears in its pure state. By this I mean I was to show trees, a sun rise, and things that have yet to be impacted by the human footprint.  Some may have never seen an area such as one I am describing. They may have simply witnesses what I am showing as the contrast between nature and human impact. For example I may take a picture of a sunset with a sign for a business in the background. I want it to ultimately show the turn in how our world is interpreting and interacting with nature. Are they seeing it with no interference or are they viewing that sunset with a large sign standing in their way?

-Ashley DeBella-McNemer

“Automatic” Photo Essay

All of these images play a role in displaying change. Not just everyday change, but change that deals with technologies. These photos were inspired by Miranda Lambert’s song, “Automatic”. In the song, the point that she makes is that things use to be done by hand, and involved much hard work. Today, technologies have made nearly everything that we do automatic. It was just fine the way things were, why did we need all of this new technology? The photos will be juxtaposed by using the new technology with the old technology. Due to the theme, the older photos were taken with a disposable camera, while the newer photos were taking on my phone. Even though the photos were taken on a disposable camera, I was able to put a 1960’s filter on them. This helps one to see that the reason these technologies are changing is due to the times. As I see it, these newer technologies are making us lazier.

These new technologies are great for many reasons, however; after seeing the photos side by side, I am trying to convey a melancholy tone. The old way of doing things was fine just the way they were, and this change is sometimes not for the better. Even though trying to convey this melancholy tone, the pictures do speak for themselves. Some of the pictures looked blurred because I covered the lens with plastic wrap. This was to create the sense that by adding these new technologies; we are losing sight of the true meaning of hard work. It also is supposed to serve as a metaphor that as these new technologies come about, we are losing sight of the past. According to Berger, “What it shows invokes what is not shown” (293). Each of these photos contains technologies new and old, and even some “technologies” that one would not usually consider a technology, and are overlooked.