hundreds of images of area barns
DVD is for sale at
Jefferson County Historical Society
(January 2012) Steve Burress has been shooting
barns. Shooting photography of barns, that is. Burress, a 62-year-old
local amateur photographer, started taking photos of wooden barns from
the surrounding area and eventually compiled the 600-plus photos onto
a DVD. The project started out for personal recreation, but soon Burress
friends and family were asking for copies of the photos.
by Nichole Osinski
Steve Burress has taken more than 600
photos of wooden barns in the area and
compiled his collection onto a DVD.
When a couple of friends suggested that the Jefferson
County Historical Society might be interested in this project, Burress
decided to find out. The decision process went through the societys
executive director Joe Carr and museum archivist Ron Grimes. After the
society approved of the photos, they then put Burress DVDs on
sale at the Historical Societys museum shop.
Theyre very good photographs of the barns, said Grimes
Theyre a relic of the past, and they should be preserved.
Burress has actively been preserving the past with his photos for more
than 40 years. His first camera came to him when he won it in a grade
school cakewalk. When he was about 20 years old, a friend of his owned
an old Pentax camera, and Burress decided he would also like to own
one. He found a similar camera in a pawn shop, bought it and started
an enjoyable hobby in photography.
Over the years Burress began to upgrade his cameras and now uses a Canon
7D digital camera. He also began to take photographs for weddings and
is the go-to man for photos during family reunions and holidays.
Burress, who lives in China, Ind., near Madison, works in shipping and
receiving at Arvin Sango Inc. and said doing photography is a way to
get him out of the house.
However, sometimes all he has to do is step out his back door, and he
has free range to photograph scenery and wildlife on the 40 acres that
he owns. He compares his property to a wildlife reserve, since it is
covered in woods and there are regular sightings of deer, turkey, coyote
and other wild animals.
With this kind of access, its no wonder his favorite things to
photograph are wildlife and scenery. He also has a talent for portraits
and finds that with age people take on a lot of character.
When Burress is at home he can also be found photographing and keeping
a log of the various birds that come to eat the seed he has left out
for them. In short, if the opportu rikes Burress is ready with his camera.
Since Burress plans to retire in a few years, he also plans to supplement
any extra photography money with his retirement fund. He explains that
with film cameras a lot of money would have been used for the film itself
and that shooting digital gives him more financial freedom.
When Burress started thinking about taking photos of old, wooden barns
he wasnt thinking about saving money.
I had cabin fever, he said. and wooden barns fascinate
me. It seemed like a perfect fit.
Burress began this process in late February and ended around early April.
He wanted his 2011 project to take place as spring came in so that he
could capture the barns before all the weeds and trees bloomed, covering
During 17 different trips around Jefferson County, Ind., Burress captured
many barns that were on the brink of collapsing and looked like
skeletons. In fact, several have already fallen to the ground,
only to be remembered by a single photo.
This photographic journey took Burress across fields, down old roads
and through creeks. He began on the eastern part of the county and worked
his way west. Each trip he would take a different colored marker and
highlight the roads he had traveled. When all the roads were colored
in, he would move on to the next area.
Taking photos of the aging barns wasnt always easy. Once Burress
was chased off a farm after the owner became suspicious. Another time
he had to hike to find a barn more than 100 years old.
Burress work payed off when he ended up with more than 1,000 colored
photos, each with their own story.
Many of the barns were partially collapsed, others had roofs covered
in moss, while one was constructed without nails or metal. A favorite
photo of Burress shows a weathered barn with turkey vultures on
the roof and is displayed in a gold-tinted field.
In some photos, its the sunset or last bit of snow on the ground
that makes the barn stand out that much more. Burress describes many
of the barns as being massive and multilayered.
Nevertheless, one of the main reasons this project began was simply
due to a love for photography and being out in nature.
With the completion of this barn project Burress is now thinking of
doing something similar but with local waterfalls. He already has a
collection of Clifty Falls after heavy rains. The photographs would
be during the different seasons and showcase the hidden corners in the
For now, Burress plans to continue taking photos of the places around
him and give everyday scenes life.
A photos worth a thousand words. If you do it right, the picture
will make you look at it longer and people will see what
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