Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

A Look Into The Past

Some months back (when it was a bit warmer than it is now), a friend and I spent a day exploring some of the back alleys of Pittsburgh. They are a fascinating place, as I am sure they are in almost any city. Besides their ‘gritty’ nature, one of the things that I found very interesting is that, because they are not seen by most of the world, the backs of buildings are often not ‘updated’ in the same way as the fronts. The walls in back are often less painted over, not repaired, and there are no new facades or décor. In some ways, it is a bit like a trip back in time, as you can often get a sense of what the buildings looked like many years ago.

Taken in a Downtown Pittsburgh Alley
Copyright Howard Grill

When I was growing up in New Jersey, my family would often visit relatives in New York. I vividly recall that one of the things that I would see in New York which was different from Jersey were the big buildings that had signs and advertisements painted onto their brick walls. This was so different than a billboard. It had a sense of permanence. It was hand-painted. It was different.

You don’t see that around very much anymore. But sometimes you can get just a hint of the old days if you step into a back alley. For me it was like a look into the past. And it had the added benefit of being an interesting place to take photographs.