Joni Lohr


“Let me read with open eyes the book my days are writing–and learn.”— Dag Hammarskjold

My love of photography, particularly documentary photography, came from my dad. He always had a camera in hand for special occasions, recording our family history. When I was little, he had a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye with film that wrapped around a spool inside the square, black Bakelite camera. It must have been indestructible, because I was allowed to use it when I was five years old. I took pictures of my friends on the block where we lived in Detroit; I took pictures of my adventures at camp; in high school and college, I took pictures with my trusty Kodak Instamatic. The photos weren’t technically advanced, but they were at least in focus, and I loved telling visual stories of the people and events in my life. Even then, I was a documentarian.

When I was 21, a friend put a Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex camera in my hands and told me to take some pictures. I had no idea what I was doing, but undaunted, went to a local park and took pictures of trees, the terrain, and two young boys who were playing there. When the film was developed, I loved the clarity of the photos, discovered I had an eye for composition, and fell in love with capturing the world at hand on film and telling stories with my photographs. Forty-eight years later, I’m still indulging that passion, although with more sophisticated equipment. My photographic interests have changed many times since my childhood Kodak days, and will certainly continue to change as I learn and live.

Photographing abandoned and ruined buildings is a recent exploration and passion. Returning to visit family in Detroit where I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, I see the ghosts and remnants of the powerful factories and dense, lively neighborhoods of my childhood. It has made me contemplate, in the world and in my own life as I get older, what remains and what is lost. There is a spirit that remains in these places and these objects, magic totems that, for now, resist the rust and rot of their circumstances. Everywhere I travel, I look for lost buildings to save in images – they will never pass this way again.

I belong to the Boston Camera Club and, other than taking my camera everywhere to photograph for myself, I photograph numerous bands, dance and theater groups in the Boston area, as well as events for local charitable causes, including the Loring-Greenough House, Jamaica Plain Porchfest, Wee the People, and the South Street Youth Center.

View Joni Lohr Photography, At the Auto Salvager, Boston Editor Power Plant, Fisher Body Plant, Detroit, Packard Automotive Plant, Detroit

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