The first four photographs in this set were taken in the 90s during various journeys into the Mayan Nation. They were taken on a Minolta 35mm camera using Kodachrome 64 speed film. At the time, this film was advertised as being the only truly archival film around and, thirty years later, I can confirm it. I visited most of Central America –including Guatemala (my favorite) twice – as well as Ecuador and Venezuela. It was during this time that I photographed people; I never did it again.


The Death Valley picture was taken with a Canon DSLR – a 5D Mark II. I still use it twelve years after I bought it, I never got around to upgrading it. The other two landscapes were shot with my 4×5 Tachihara large-format film camera. I mostly use a heavier Sinar 4×5 now. It is a better camera but a dog to pull through the woods when it’s close to a hundred out. In my opinion, large-format is the best way to go for landscapes. The negatives are tougher to process through Photoshop, much harder than my Canon digital images. Yet large format film has a soul to it that hasn’t been one-hundred percent emulated yet by digital cameras.


The row house is from my Last House Standing series. I was very fortunate to have this particular piece purchased by the Baltimore Museum of Art for their collection.


“Silver Run” is from a long running series of abandoned houses that I’ve photographed in Maryland, mostly on the eastern shore. The ones I pick are not your run-of-the-mill shacks; these have a lot of family and other history to work with.


The rootball, like the old houses, is also from a long-running project involving difficult treks through the woods. Based on where I found it, it occurred to me that quite possibly nobody had ever seen it before. It reminded me of the old question, “If a tree falls in a forest, and there’s no one around to hear it fall, did it make a sound”? Of course it did and since this one was at least twelve feet tall laying on its side it probably caused a mini-earthquake to boot. Shot on my 4×5, film.


The final five images are from my “Structures” series where I execute in-depth explorations of streets, sidewalks, walls, parking lots, garages, etc. The Kennedy Center and Brooklyn Museum of Art pictures consist of hundreds of individual cell phone photographs slowly pieced together. For these I used a Nexus 6P smartphone. The Ocean City parking lot was shot with my Canon. I walked up and down the open lot behind a bar and took several hundred photographs while fending off loaded questions from the guys on cigarette breaks. Later, I put everything together in the studio. The circle and the square photographs are from my sidewalks series. I think the end result is more interesting than one would expect, which I guess is the whole point. Both are single shots from the Canon.


I was born in 1958 in Augsburg, Germany, the oldest of four. My mother was from Berlin; my father was born in Russia but grew up in Poland. When I was young, the family moved to the United States and eventually settled in the new town of Columbia, MD. I’ve made the nearby city of Baltimore my home for over forty years now. After finishing college, I quickly moved towards the photograph as my preferred form of artistic expression. Much of my early work was inspired by my experiences travelling abroad. As time passed, I observed my adopted hometown of Baltimore more closely and with a different set of eyes. I began exploring the idea of home and the passing of time – in particular, the rapid disappearance of so many homes – both in the city and outside of it. The demolition of many of these buildings, for various reasons, has been sanctioned by local governments and other entities often under the threat of eminent domain. Others were simply left behind for nature to decide.


In 2010, I began my photo essay, Last House Standing, as a way to document and explore this condition of displacement. Around the same time, I also began to photograph abandoned houses on the eastern shore, an area encompassing large parts of Delaware and Maryland bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. This was one of the first parts of America to be settled by the English colonists in the early 16th century and the region abounds with historic houses. Many of these have given way to new resort developments as retirees from Baltimore and Washington, DC have moved in to seek refuge in an area known for its slow pace of life. Again, I wanted to document the disappearance of these buildings as the 21st century settlers take over.





My photographic essays “Last House Standing” and “The Camps” have received press both nationally and abroad (Washington Post, The Paris Review, Huffington Post, Slate, Wired). More recently, I have begun to explore the myriad structures of the urban core in Towers, Street, Stairwells and Museums. My photographs have been shown at a number of national and international galleries and venues including the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Delaware Art Museum; the Patricia Conde Galeria in Mexico City; and the Houston Center for Photography. My work is also in several important collections including the Baltimore Museum of Art, New Britain Museum of Art and Le Musée de la Photographie in Charleroi, Belgium. I am currently represented by C. Grimaldis Gallery in Baltimore, MD and PDNB Gallery in Dallas, TX.

Ben Marcin

October, 2020