Right now, as I write this, James Moody’s “Last Train From Overbrook” is playing in my mind.
Today, while on photography assignments, I was going through Cedar Grove (a Newark suburb) when I passed the abandoned Overbrook Mental Hospital. The place has been abandoned for probably 20 or more years. It was a big mental hospital in its day.
Be it far from me to pass up a good set of abandoned buildings. So, I parked my truck in a nearby residential neighborhood and walked about a 1/3 mile or so back to the hospital grounds. I shot what I could and was tempted to venture further into the complex, however NO TRESPASSING signs were as plentiful as the weeds on the grounds. Having both my cellphone camera and point and shoot camera, God knows I was tempted to just have a field day!
Yet, my gut kept nudging me to keep moving along. And just as I was heading in the direction of my truck, a police car was there! I didn’t know if it were a local or county car; I wasn’t about to find out. I made my way back to the sidewalk and walked for my truck. I saw the cop car disappear and for a moment temptation came back. Then the realization that the “boys/girls in blue” could pop up out of nowhere, and I could wind up in Newark at the Essex County lockup having to explain myself-not a way to spend my current week-long vacation!
I (and probably any other image maker) want to take that risk for that one shot-especially us photographers. Some of us will go into areas where angels fear to tread to get a cool image. Although I’m not in a war-torn region, in this area it’s easy to go into a bad neighborhood or into an abandoned building-usually alone. Although I’m an adventurous type, I do listen to my gut when I know something could not be right.
In today’s verse, Jesus had to remind Satan about testing (or “tempting”) God: doing something foolish and thinking God’ll bail you out; to test God to see what He/She would do in response to some stunt on our part. How would I look if I prayed to God to “protect” me if I had really wandered onto the hospital grounds, knowing full well I was in the wrong? I could have wandered into a building and could have gotten hurt or-just as bad-arrested. I did manage to get some shots before having to say “bye” and leave (featured on this post).
It’s good to push our creative envelope and take calculated thought-out risks. Yes, there are times we may have to take a bold risk creatively; and Heaven knows I’ve done so myself. However, this was done where I knew I what I was getting into; and weighed out all the possibilities beforehand. However, to play the Divine for a fool and think He/She will bail us out is another thing. Although I may have missed some possibly “cool” shots, I’ve kept my nose clean. Who’s to say that in the future an opportunity may open up to photograph these grounds in more detail in an authorized setting like a tour? And since I’ve kept my nose clean, my name won’t be turned down if I should apply for such an opportunity?
That’s my “lesson” for the day. Yes go out and create; and take those creative calculated risks. But make sure you use common sense wherever you go. It might just save your life, or at least your reputation!