The Untrodden Ways

Dennis Minner Jr. says he’s not looking for ghosts, but his portfolio looks like a real estate guide for the dead and displaced. Abandoned asylums, prisons and a private school, an empty cemetery, all in and around Ne

w York City. He sneaks in, sometimes through holes in chain link fences, for the gorgeous decay. Peeling paint, dark doorways, graffiti, cracked windows.

His lens takes us to places we wouldn’t want to go alone.

At 250 pounds, the former high school football player, who admits he used to give the “artist-types” a hard time in the hallway, Minner’s melancholy seems unlikely. He’s a former youth minister from Missouri, and a pharmaceutical salesman.

Minner laughed at this. Unlikely or not, he said he loves forgotten places, and compares them to “ancient ruins.” He’s capturing architecture, and documenting buildings that once had a purpose. “It’s about bringing restoration and grace back to these buildings,” he said. “There is an overall creepy vibe when you look at some of those photos, but the redemptive qualities come out. There’s always light.”

That’s cheery. And, really, his photos do make you feel more like you’re looking through the eyes of an explorer, than being trapped in a haunted jail cell or (shudder) closet. Adventure’s the appeal of “urban exploration,” Minner said.

“The nature of the activity presents various risks,” he quotes, from a Wikipedia article on the hobby. “Including both physical danger and the possibility of arrest and punishment.”
It’s becoming more popular due to the TV show Ghost Hunters, and movie Shutter Island, Minner said. The Facebook page for his photography is gaining fans steadily, and he just had his first exhibit in June, at Magasin Totale in Brooklyn. He’s applying to set up a booth at an outdoor market in Union Square, Manhattan, in July.

The photos also acknowledge that terrible things happen, however. Incarceration, and the shock therapy used in the shuttered asylums. And that things fall apart. Paint peels, furniture pops its springs, silver mirrors blear. It can get heavy, and creepy. Minner said he’s experienced “inexplicable” things.

“There are times and places that — I don’t want to say they’re haunted, but I’ll tell you, there’s a very heavy feeling in some of the places we go.”

They hear loud creaks. The bang of a door slamming shut from somewhere inside.
“It definitely makes your heart race,” he said. “It gets your adrenaline pumping. I don’t know if it’s really anything there, or just your imagination. We’ve felt uncomfortable enough to leave, before, though.”

Minner said he’s a skeptic, when it comes to calling something weird, “paranormal.” He’s shot 19 locales and nothing has shown up in any of his photos besides dust “orbs,” or the glare of a camera flash. Nothing that couldn’t be explained.
Except for one “discoloration.”

He was shooting into an empty jail cell, firing off several shots into the same light, at the same angle. One of the photos, however, on the digital view-screen, showed a human shape. A discoloration. In the next frame, taken a fraction of a second later, it was gone.
“I snapped a second, and it wasn’t there. It was really odd,” he said. “Whatever that means, I don’t know.”

His first subject was a decaying waterworks that supplied fresh water to Brooklyn and part of New York city in the 1800s. He was driving by, noticed the old hulk, and pulled over. There was a “No trespassing” sign, but a bent chain-link fence with room to crawl under made more of an impression. He came back the next day with a camera.
He goes in groups of three, these days. If someone gets injured, one person can go for help while two stay behind.

“Some people go with us and love it,” Minner said. “And others get freaked out the moment we get there and want to leave. One guy was jumping at every noise he heard. We were going through tunnels, we were going through some of the craziest places.”
Minner said he doesn’t seek out the paranormal, as a man of faith, but can’t say it doesn’t exist. He was certain, though, that God was communicating with him, once, through light, and a room time was meticulously un-papering, and un-upholstering.
“I was shooting at the school for girls, and walked in, and saw this green chair,” Minner said. “I felt like I was opening a door and finding myself alone in a room. I felt like I was the one sitting there abandoned, forgotten and left, and the only hope was the light shining down on it.”

Visit Dennis Minner’s album online:

www.bellaphotographynyc.com

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Dennis Minner Jr. says he’s not looking for ghosts, but his portfolio looks like a real estate guide for the dead and displaced. Abandoned asylums, prisons and a private school, an empty cemetery, all in and around New York City. He sneaks in, sometimes through holes in chain link fences, for the gorgeous decay. Peeling paint, dark doorways, graffiti, cracked windows.
His lens takes us to places we wouldn’t want to go alone.
At 250 pounds, the former high school football player, who admits he used to give the “artist-types” a hard time in the hallway, Minner’s melancholy seems unlikely. He’s a former youth minister from Missouri, and a pharmaceutical salesman.
Minner laughed at this. Unlikely or not, he said he loves forgotten places, and compares them to “ancient ruins.” He’s capturing architecture, and documenting buildings that once had a purpose. “It’s about bringing restoration and grace back to these buildings,” he said. “There is an overall creepy vibe when you look at some of those photos, but the redemptive qualities come out. There’s always light.”
That’s cheery. And, really, his photos do make you feel more like you’re looking through the eyes of an explorer, than being trapped in a haunted jail cell or (shudder) closet. Adventure’s the appeal of “urban exploration,” Minner said.
“The nature of the activity presents various risks,” he quotes, from a Wikipedia article on the hobby. “Including both physical danger and the possibility of arrest and punishment.”
It’s becoming more popular due to the TV show Ghost Hunters, and movie Shutter Island, Minner said. The Facebook page for his photography is gaining fans steadily, and he just had his first exhibit in June, at Magasin Totale in Brooklyn. He’s applying to set up a booth at an outdoor market in Union Square, Manhattan, in July.
The photos also acknowledge that terrible things happen, however. Incarceration, and the shock therapy used in the shuttered asylums. And that things fall apart. Paint peels, furniture pops its springs, silver mirrors blear. It can get heavy, and creepy. Minner said he’s experienced “inexplicable” things.
“There are times and places that — I don’t want to say they’re haunted, but I’ll tell you, there’s a very heavy feeling in some of the places we go.”
They hear loud creaks. The bang of a door slamming shut from somewhere inside.
“It definitely makes your heart race,” he said. “It gets your adrenaline pumping. I don’t know if it’s really anything there, or just your imagination. We’ve felt uncomfortable enough to leave, before, though.”
Minner said he’s a skeptic, when it comes to calling something weird, “paranormal.” He’s shot 19 locales and nothing has shown up in any of his photos besides dust “orbs,” or the glare of a camera flash. Nothing that couldn’t be explained.
Except for one “discoloration.”
He was shooting into an empty jail cell, firing off several shots into the same light, at the same angle. One of the photos, however, on the digital view-screen, showed a human shape. A discoloration. In the next frame, taken a fraction of a second later, it was gone.
“I snapped a second, and it wasn’t there. It was really odd,” he said. “Whatever that means, I don’t know.”
His first subject was a decaying waterworks that supplied fresh water to Brooklyn and part of New York city in the

1800s. He was driving by, noticed the old hulk, and pulled over. There was a “No trespassing” sign, but a bent chain-link fence with room to crawl under made more of an impression. He came back the next day with a camera.
He goes in groups of three, these days. If someone gets injured, one person can go for help while two stay behind.
“Some people go with us and love it,” Minner said. “And others get freaked out the moment we get there and want to leave. One guy was jumping at every noise he heard. We were going through tunnels, we were going through some of the craziest places.”
Minner said he doesn’t seek out the paranormal, as a man of faith, but can’t say it doesn’t exist. He was certain, though, that God was communicating with him, once, through light, and a room time was meticulously un-papering, and un-upholstering.
“I was shooting at the school for girls, and walked in, and saw this green chair,” Minner said. “I felt like I was opening a door and finding myself alone in a room. I felt like I was the one sitting there abandoned, forgotten and left, and the only hope was the light shining down on it.”
Visit Dennis Minner’s album online:
www.bellaphotographynyc.com
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