Before I Leave 

This started off as a photo essay of Mason, Ohio, documenting what I saw around me as I had been taught in school. I set out with a few ideas and a shot list. I met people and created images. I began to realize many of the places I went to were places I went as a kid, where I spent my time as a young man, growing up and learning. I was photographing my relationship with this place I had come to know. It is where I spent my formative years as a young man. I photographed memories, places, and people who brought back thoughts and feelings that I had long forgotten. I felt like a kid again, experiencing Mason the way I had long ago.

If it wasn’t for the pandemic, I don’t think I would have ever photographed my community. I realized I was creating this body of work as a last goodbye to my hometown. The work reflects my psychological state during the pandemic. Through the isolation caused by the pandemic, I was able to focus on this body of work. Nostalgia struck me as I returned to places I once explored with new photographic eyes and captured what I saw. I needed to express the change, the loss, and the transformation I was going through while on the cusp of leaving where I had spent my formative years. I decided that once I leave, I am starting a new life. I needed to photograph Mason one last time, Before I Leave.

The sunsets over a wheat field in Mason, Ohio.

A broken fence in the back parking lot of Yost Pharmacy. My best friend and I used to ride our bikes to Yost to buy cheap candy.

My mother’s fiddle leaf fig in the dying winter light.

Fake flowers and an American flag sit on a windowsill in downtown Mason.

Light floods out of a building at a park by my house. 

Childhood meets its death in the winter.

For a year and a half, schools across the world lacked the warm bodies of young, active minds. These brick buildings remained vacant. The separation between school and home was blurred. Hopefully, August has new promises. 

A view from the church parking lot where my father had taught me to ride my bike. A child mows the lawn while his father watches from the deck.

An ant on top of a fig buttercup flower in the front yard of my aunt and uncle’s house.

This is true grass. Grass that is not shaped by humans. Grass that sleeps in the winter and rises in the spring. Grass that is eternal. This is true grass.

Two geese fly west.

An egg lays besides a creek. New Beginnings.

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