There are many ways to get to know a new community, but for many of us that would include simply driving around to check out the surrounding neighborhoods, towns and countryside. When New Bern photographer Zach Frailey, otherwise known as the Uprooted Photographer, arrived in New Bern after college he did just that – he took to the open road to explore, and photograph, his new home.
What he found along the way was an abundance of history, much of which was giving way to the elements after years of abandonment.
“There wasn’t really one particular building that grabbed my attention, but I think it was just the amount of material,” said Frailey. “Around every corner there is a forgotten barn or a rundown house. There’s just something about them – the history and the memories.”
At first, he said, the first couple of shots were actually to focus on the amazing vegetation in the spring and summer or a stunning summer sunset and structures just happened to be in the frame.
“But when comments started coming in from people who were affiliated with the buildings it really made it more of a living history project.”
Forgotten NC was born – a side project for this photojournalist with the Kinston Free Press that continues to gain steam with followers.
“Now, as soon as I put something up on social media, people will almost immediately chime in that they know the house, or had a relative who used to live there,” Frailey said. “That involvement, and hearing the stories, has really been the motivation to keep the project going.
“I can remember I shot an old store outside of Beaufort and it had just rained that day and there was a nice reflection in the puddles. It was a great shot and it got so many comments,” said the photographer. “People remembered sneaking out of the high school nearby to have a hamburger, or they recalled the time the principal caught them there. It started a great conversation of memories that people probably hadn’t thought about it years.”
While most of his subject matter remains, several have caved and fallen since he has shot them. A few others have been destroyed by the owners or bulldozed for development.
“And that’s another reason to capture them – to conserve those memories – because we’re losing them at a pretty fast rate.”
The rules for Frailey are simple. If located on private property, he always seeks permission first. He never enters any of the structures and his goal is to try his best not to disturb the scene in any way.
“I try to add to the project pretty regularly, but other things sometimes get in the way, so there have been some definite holes here and there,” he said. “And of course I’m always looking for new material.”
New works are posted on both a tumblr page (Tumblr.forgottennc.com) as well as Facebook, under Forgotten NC.
“It’s definitely a social media project,” the photographer said. “It’s a social project for me. I love the comments and discussion it creates.”
A dream shoot? Frailey is hoping he can one day photograph the old North Wilkesboro Speedway. Until then, he is happy traipsing through Eastern North Carolina.