The Main building of the Essex County Penitentiary stood alone on the hilltop, her battered façade illuminated by the setting sun. Five years earlier I had spent more than a month
systematically photographing the 32 acre jail complex as part of a required HABS (Historic American Buildings Survey) documentation before the institutional structures and outbuildings built between 1872 and 1929 could be demolished to make way for modern condominiums.
It was a cold December day in 2007 when I first walked through the dank prison in North Caldwell, New Jersey. The eerily silent jail complex appeared like a forbidding rusted ruin concealing deeply etched memories of its ghostly inhabitants within the walls.
My first job was to design a shot list that would become the basis for my final (107) 4” x 5” b/w film documentation. During my walk-through with architectural historian Ken Kalmis, I composed hundreds of digital images for reference.
The solutions demanded a photojournalist’s insight to stay true to the narrative, lighting skills to creatively equate ambient light and fill flash, and knowledge of the guidelines for the long-term preservation of historic documentation.
The meeting is scheduled at the Verona Community Center, 880 Bloomfield Ave., at 7:30 p.m. For more information you can email the Society at twoJVO@yahoo.com or call (973) 857-1968.
You will not want to miss this event–everyone is promised to leave with something to remember this important landmark and fully understand the contribution it made to our history.