Updated: Oct 8, 2018
The exciting adventure of doing a photo shoot in an abandoned hospital, with model Lindsey K Robinson.
I've heard stories about St. Ignatius over the past few years. It was built in 1893 and rumored to be haunted. The thought of exploring an abandoned hospital seemed exciting, but I always assumed it would either be difficult or expensive to get inside. Recently I joined the Facebook page Spokane Models, and when I saw they were putting together an affordable photography event to allow 20 people inside, I jumped on the opportunity.
I knew immediately I wanted my good friend, Lindsey, to model for this particular shoot, but I was a little nervous to ask her. Would she think I was out of my mind? What if she was too scared to go with me? After playing the different scenarios in my head, I told myself to stop being a baby and just ask. So I messaged her, and to my delight she replied with, " YESSSSSS! THAT SOUNDS SO COOL!" and I knew we were in for an awesome day.
Now the hard part. What's the concept of this photo shoot? I didn't know what I wanted to photograph, just that I wanted to create art in a creepy old hospital. I did know that I wanted to avoid cliche themes like the Halloween style costumes and ballgown dresses. So I decided to keep it simple, and have Lindsey wear an off white slip. But then, how do I pose her? I can't just have her stand in a room and smile. I started flipping through the pages of my journal, a place I keep all of my weird ideas that come to me. One idea stood out: floating.
With the photo shoot concept decided on, all that's left is the adventure. We loaded up the car, grabbed some Starbucks, and started our one hour drive to Colfax. If you're familiar with Eastern Washington, then you know all that's between Spokane and Colfax is farmlands. Nothing but farmlands. This gave us a great opportunity to catch up on each other's lives over the past few months. The last time we saw each other was to photograph Toxic Beauty. It was also a great way to break the ice and get comfortable, since I was about to ask her to strip down in an abandoned hospital and pose for me.
Finally, we arrived at St. Ignatius. Just looking at the building from the car got us excited. It's one of those buildings I look at and immediately say, "Oh wow that's an old building". The old brick and arched windows are truly beautiful.
We parked the car and went inside to pick the best room to start taking pictures in. Most of the rooms looked similar with boarded up windows, peeling paint, and debris covering the floors. On the first floor I was drawn to one particular room that had paint peeling down from the ceiling. We decided to try this room first for our floating image.
To achieve this image was bit tricky. I didn't want Lindsey wearing shoes in this photo, but as you can probably guess, she wasn't exactly excited to be bare foot in this place. To avoid stepping on broken glass, and who knows what else, each time I had to move her for a shot, I brought her shoes to put back on, re-position, and then take off again. Another difficult element to this, was the pose itself. To create the illusion of her floating, we brought a step ladder. I had her stand on the ladder, arch her back, and lift one leg off the ladder. I took a photo, and then had her switch legs, and take another photo. Standing on a ladder, arching her back, and lifting one leg, was very difficult. I applaud her! After creating the two images, I removed her and the ladder from the scene and took a third image. Then in Photoshop I combined all three photos for the final image.
At the time of taking the first image, I felt the room was too dark. I wanted to find a room without boarded windows, that allowed natural light to pour in. We found a couple of great rooms on the 3rd floor. We re-shot the floating image in a bright room and it looked great. (When I went home later and started editing I ultimately decided the darker room fit the image better). Obsessed with the natural light and peeling pastel paint, we spent the majority of our time in these rooms. From standing on radiators, to sitting in window sills, and standing in creepy hallways, we really got the most out of our three hours of allowed time there.
When our time was up and we had to leave, we were sad we couldn't stay longer. To our surprise we weren't scared being in a place rumored to be haunted. Personally, I felt really comfortable there. I could have stayed and taken photos all day, if allowed. But every great adventure has to have an end.
We loaded up our gear, started our journey back home and ended our day sharing chicken strips and a burger at Zip's.
Watch the behind the scenes video of our photo shoot at St. Ignatius!