Abandoned houses all over the U.S. hold both mystery and beauty. Tales of them being haunted likely drive away any passersby — but Youngstown State University senior Kelsey Anderson is an exception. When she has the time, she enjoys capturing images of the things that have been left behind to be forgotten.
“You could tell there was a story there and that a family had lived there. There were children’s toys laying around, and the wallpaper was faded,” Anderson said. “It just made me think, ‘Who could have lived here?’”
Anderson is an early childhood education major usually seen with a bag filled with school supplies. But she can also be seen carrying around her favorite tool: a Nikon D5100 camera.
“I’ve been exposed to photography since I was little,” Anderson said. “My dad was really into cameras. So, literally from the time I was born, I’ve always had a camera in my face.” The second eldest of four sisters, Anderson began taking her hobby seriously when she was 14.
“I started out with a little point-and-shoot camera. I just sort of started manifesting from that,” Anderson said.
However, she doesn’t dwell only in the depths of abandoned households; no matter where she is, she likes to point her camera and capture the moment.
“I like to view everything from an artistic point of view. God created all of this around us, and I like to capture what he envisioned,” Anderson said. “Like, if I see an empty bench with some leaves on it, some people would think, ‘It’s just a bench.’ But just working with different angles and lighting, … you can get the most beautiful photo out of it.”
This spring, Anderson will be the featured artist in Jenny, YSU’s online literary magazine.
“I am going to have my photos published,” she said. “So, that is very exciting.”
Anderson owns four cameras: a Nikon D5100, Nikon D90 and two Nikon Coolpix cameras.
Her favorite thing to do with pictures is experiment with lighting.
“In the evenings, there are really warm amber tones and it plays with people’s skin and hair, just stuff around them. It’s so beautiful,” Anderson said.
Sometimes, her friends and family will model for her whenever she has the itch to take photos.
Anderson said her favorite place to take pictures is Pittsburgh’s Strip District, where her family often shops during winter break.
“There is so much down there that you can take pictures of. One store my mom likes to go in is a spice shop,” Anderson said while flipping through photos stored on the memory card of her Nikon D5100. “I love the way this turned out. The focus is on the cloves, but the rest is blurry. It’s all about perception.”
When she is in the mood to lift up her camera, she said she doesn’t mind being patient. “The day after Christmas, I went and dropped handfuls of birdseed. I was flinging it like fairy dust,” Anderson said.
One feature on her Nikon D5100 allows her to silence the shutter speed. She said this came in handy when the birds finally showed up.
“I just crouched down and stayed still for like 20 minutes until the birds came around. But I got some fantastic photos because of it,” Anderson said.
In the future, Anderson said she plans to keep her camera by her side and do photography jobs for friends. Plus, if she ever gets tired of teaching, photography allows her to always have a backup plan.