So, once upon a time in the land of Jade, before I became a portrait photographer, I was what I like to call an Urban Decay photographer. I used to scamper around in old buildings, no doubt filled with asbestos and god knows what else, and try to find captivating pictures out of the piles of discarded things and rust.
Since I was a kid I’d loved old buildings whether it be a weathered old brick warehouse (ever so common in northeast Pennsylvania) or an ornate St Anne’s style abode, I just loved older architecture.
There was a building as a child that I was super obsessed with. My mum still occasionally tells me stories about how on our trips to Wilkes-Barre, if ever we went down river street I would get really excited and exclaim ” Look Mom! It’s my hotel!” little me would say pointing to Hotel Sterling.
I’m really not sure why I decided the hotel was mine, but apparently, it was, and the eagles on the market street bridge were guarding it for me. I had quite the imagination in my youth.
Since I was young I saw that hotel as pretty even though at that point most people saw it as an eyesore. My fascination with it only grew as I got older, eventually exploring inside the hotel in the dead of night on a super SUPER cold night. I remember going inside and looking around with my friends and our tiny flashlights and seeing the Carinthian columns in the foyer, and where the ballroom used to be. I remember walls of full-length mirrors and thinking about how pretty this place must have been in its glory.
Did you know that in its heyday some famous folks like Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Louis Armstrong stayed there? At one point it was quite the place to be, and in my trip inside, in the cold and the dark, with litter and broken glass and crumbling walls, it still was. I still saw the beauty that attracted people to it back in its glory days.
So I started taking pictures of other abandoned places, or buildings in disarray, things that most people saw as eyesores. I learned stories about them as I went along, and tried to capture small bits of beauty to show to those around me. That was exciting for me.
In the past few years, most of the places that I’ve photographed have been torn down, most notably Hotel Sterling. It was a long time coming most people would say, but it was too soon for me, as silly as that sounds. Around the time of its demolition I was transitioning from my urban decay style business- Photographiti, to something that sounded a little more like a portrait business. ( I’m not sure I’d get any wedding inquiries with a name that had graffiti right in it. lol)
I had struggled with a name for a while and one day it dawned on me that I was looking for something pretty that might appeal to weddings, but also reflect me as a person. I took my nickname Jade, and Sterling because not only did it sound fancy, but it let me keep a small bit of my urban decay roots with me.
I regret not really getting to take any professional photos in Hotel Sterling before it’s demolition, but I’ll remember my time there always. I went on to photograph other abandoned places that no longer exist, and I would like to share a few of them with you now. I hope you see the same beauty in them that attracted me to them in the first place.