Coopersville Windows

Memorial Day weekend I spent some time photographing in Coopersville, about 20 minutes west of Grand Rapids. I’d been there, last summer, when I first started my project photographing the business districts in small towns in the region around Grand Rapids. I’m trying to decide whether to continue that project in some form–doing a second round, with a varied approach–or do something different. In the meantime, I went back to Coopersville.

I did a “portrait” of one building, using the Polaroid/postcard look I’m taken to in the past year. The cover image of the blogpost (see below for a fuller, larger version). But I focused on store windows. Here are my favorites.

Mostly, I don’t go into the stores when I’m photographing them. But I was a bit hungry and a little sad the bakery was closed.

As you can see, the lights are off in the stores, so it’s difficult to see inside, except where sunlight lights the storefront. The empty streets, on a Sunday, add to the mood.

The art and (it looks like) and second hand items and perhaps antiques also adds to the mood. I always wonder who the customers are for stores like these in small towns. Locals? Tourists? Both? I also wonder whether they are labors of love, first and foremost, or about income. In any case, in most of the small towns I photograph, you see signs of persistence and hope in storefronts and signs of distress and precariousness, where the only thing in the window is a “for rent” or “for sale” sign.

Finally, as promised, a fuller, larger version of the cover image. I’m not sure why, but these “portrait” shots hold my attention. It’s partly the buildings themselves. It’s partly the colors in the way I have processed them. In my head at least, they convey living history–buildings that originated in a different time, some of which are still well-used today, some empty, at least for the moment. In this case, the absence of cars made the parking lines stand out, drawing my gaze to the left, which I like.

The weather has turned hot this weekend. Stay cool!

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