Exterior shot of old power plant before restoration with model standing in front

Municipal Light Plant

Interior image of old boiler room as power plant is restored
Municipal Power Plant, Columbus

There have been many instances where timing is essential. This old power plant had been empty for years, brick crumbling, pipes rusting. Then suddenly it became the center of activity with crews working to remove the old machinery. I wasn’t sure whether this spelled the end of the building or new life but I knew I had to act. Luckily I had a model willing to take the risks and seize the adventure!

nude man standing, partially hidden behind I-beam
Behind the Beam
View looking up at nude male standing inside partially dismantled machinery
Thinking back

I was only able to squeeze 2 sessions into the space due to its high visibility and activity levels. The first was mainly a scouting trip. Sneaking in through an open construction entrance with nothing more than my phone camera, I was able to get a lay of the land. The second session finally utilized the model. It was a guerrilla maneuver to get myself, my model and spotter inside, but well worth it. The building was beautiful. Constructed as Columbus’ first power plant almost a century ago, the building was an amazing mass of rusting structures, pipes, boilers and gauges.

nude man in front of panel with many power gauges
Gauging it all
shirtless man from behind operating switches on brick wall
Switching Off

It was distinctly difficult to maintain cleanliness in this place. Either you were covered with rust or soot. But the history and the solitary figure were my primary goals. I think that I’ve always sought out the singular figure as a thematic standard. The loneliness of an individual, nude and unprotected, in these spaces that harken great danger – there’s a tangible symbolism that rings true.

nude man standing in junky room full of debris
Remains of an Office
nude man standing in front of dismantled rusting boilers
Boiler Room

This was also a great learning experience for me. Working in a very dangerous place with difficult lighting, it was truly a method to practice for future scenarios. It was also demanding as it was not merely an abandoned location, but one that was in the process of demolition. Patrols by police and construction crews were always in the back of my mind. So speed was essential. We got in and out as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this also meant the loss of several image options. You always think of the shot you could have made after everything is done. Again, it helped shape future shoots.

man curled up in fetal position inside large rusting boiler
Inside the pipe
large rusting pipes of old boiler
Circulatory System

The oldest part of the building has become an arts and antiques auction house soon to open to the public. A newer section, built in the ’50’s, will be completed later this year. I’m happy that the city actually salvaged this building, especially one with such significance. And I’m also happy to have made this location my first true industrial capture!

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