View Full Version : Monthly...The Story Behind Every Photograph

Steve Sherman
1-Mar-2016, 03:14
Fafnir Doorway Sept 1, 1997

Beginning Labor Day Monday of 1997 I began approximately a 6-week encounter with the Fafnir Ball bearing plant in New Britain CT. The factory was being razed and was fenced off from the public, my friend Peter Bosco and James Monterio had been here several times and suggested I join them for some exploration and photography. Those two being much more accomplished with this type Urban work than I. To this day I remember Peter telling me, “Steve, it’s all about filling space”...an epiphany I’ve not forgotten.

During the six-week time frame I would visit the site on weekends and even weekdays after work, bringing coffee and pastry for the security guard in exchange for gaining entry. Guard told us that if we were caught he would deny knowing we were inside and we’d be subject to the consequences. I had become totally mesmerized by the photographic opportunities and challenges this abandoned 6-story structure presented.

The very first day in the building I made “Fafnir Doorway” on 5x7 sheet film, I don’t recall even having to move the door one way or the other, it was a ready made image. The light was streaming in from a side window that provided the dramatic side lighting on the open door but made for a nightmarish amount of contrast in dealing with the porcelain toilet and especially the background behind the toilet. The area behind the toilet at one time was rather light and now was particularly dirty and distracting, in order to project the porcelain toilet as the secondary focal point of the image I had to not only print down but balance the background to allow the toilet to stand out with no distractions from behind. The final print was a challenge with the papers that were available in the late 90’s.

From the minute I got inside the structure I was never fully comfortable, country boy inside a dark unlit building with paid security to keep out the unsavory element of the day. I remember one Saturday being on the 2nd floor and hearing a lot of yelling and commotion going on right outside a wall of windows. I finally got up the nerve to go to the window and see what all the noise was about, a group of a dozen of so, cash in their hands yelling while two cocks were fighting in the center circle. Not long after that episode did I decide I needed to print this work more dramatic and with more stark shadows then my prior work. I was unnerved while inside, most times by myself and I wanted my photographs to portray a feeling of desperation.

As time in the building progressed I became particularly taken with the smoke stacks and any variation I could dream up seemed to build with each visit. To this day I don’t ever recall making so many negatives in such a short amount of time. I do have others not digitized but sadly my access to the location ended very abruptly when one of the demolition contractors saw us roaming around one of the floors.

There are enough negatives to mount a decent story of the remains and demolition of the factory at some point in the future. Research has told me that at one time during the WW II years the factory employed 7000 employees working 3 shifts, essentially around the clock.

Michael Clark
1-Mar-2016, 06:53
Thats a good story, it seems like since 9-11 it is much harder to gain accuse to these places. Great photograph!!.

mathieu Bauwens
1-Mar-2016, 08:09
Noce picture and nice story, too.

Randy Moe
1-Mar-2016, 09:30
Remember Richard Nickel died photographing the tear down of Chicago Stock Exchange. Perhaps my favorite space, a veneer on cement.


1-Mar-2016, 10:45
I like to see pictures with stories behind them! I have lived in New Britain, CT for a year.

7-Mar-2016, 06:14
Great story and photo! I'm in industrial decay myself and I'd love to see some more your photos

Steve Sherman
7-Mar-2016, 18:44
Great story and photo! I'm in industrial decay myself and I'd love to see some more your photos

Thx for you kind words, there are more from this series here : http://www.steve-sherman.com/fafnir_main.htm

Thx for taking a look

8-Mar-2016, 12:46
Thanks for the pointer. Great images.