About Rich Whiddon

Most of my work focuses on documenting the America's ruins, specifically the former psychiatric hospitals built in the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. These facilities were once considered great architectural feats, many of which are listed under the National Historic Registry. Due to the advances in medicine and changes in mental health care ideals, most of these facilities were closed during the Deinstitutionalisation of the 1980s. While select few of these facilities were repurposed, most sat neglected for decades. Many of these, whether protected under the National Register or not, have unfortunately been demolished or are currently at high risk.

Over the years I've developed a strong affinity towards each facility, often returning to photograph the changes in season and the progression of both environmental decay. While photographing these structures time freezes and ceases to exist, and allows me to work slowly with each individual photograph. I'll spend time before taking each photo cleaning the room of any trash and debris, ensuring a purer look at how the facility has been transformed, rather than how it has been destroyed. In the end, while an artistic view is important to me, I also try to use my work as a form of preservation, providing a documenting record of these disappearing structures and of what once was. I strive to have my photos express the beauty I see in each of these facilities, the image of what has been left over, exactly what happens when we let nature reclaim what once was, and to show unique history that is stolen from us each time one of these structures is lost forever.

Being fully-self taught with more than 15 years of experience, I use many methods of conveying my message. From different cameras, films, and light spectra, I take each photograph true to the subject, but capture more than your eyes would ever see. In 2013, I began shooting in digital format, though I still favor cameras manufactured prior to 1980, and will always favor the timeless look and feel of analog film formats.