-9 Degrees by John Mooney

It's  4 AM and it is the coldest morning in Boston since 1957. My gear has been packed since the night before and I have never been one to waver to weather. In my life rescheduling means a 1 to 2 week wait which is just simply unacceptable. Every opportunity must be met with full determination otherwise, what the fuck are we doing here? Luckily for me, my cohort is similarly minded.

Tucked away in the littlest state in the country is this incredible location. Once a school for religious studies it now sits in a state of uselessness. It's grandeur is causing delusions to none. A massive building with many, many problems; a restoration would be costly. This just being the main building on a campus of multiple large buildings in varying levels of decay. A large stone structure too intimidating to enter on our initial entry.

We decided to choose a smaller building that was used as a cafeteria and common area. Pretty trashed and boring we knew that we were not in the right place. The minimal saving grace was a modern spiral staircase but it wasn't the most interesting shot framed up. We packed up and decided to move into the stone monster.

I'm no boy-scout. I'm also not a career criminal. I would just avoid this whole point in the story if I had done anything horrible, but the backdoor was wide open. I've had some pretty easy entries before but this had to be the easiest. We enter to the sound of an alarm screeching. BEEP.....BEEP.....BEEP.....BEEP.....BEEP..... You get the point. Now most people would bolt at this point but some spots are like this in my experience. Typically the caretaker has turned off the alarm one too many times because it was set off by wildlife. 

Upon entry of the main lobby you are just taken back by it's beauty...and its warmth. A single heater in the corner of the dining room would prove to be my saviour later. Once inside the main building my accomplice and I went separate ways. Normally, this is how it goes with missions. Once entry is made, we stay close enough to be reachable in an emergency but far enough away to stay the F out of each others way. Some places seem to be more challenging than others in this regard. This place however was massive and I wouldn't see D until around the time I thought I had frostbite. 

It seemed like with every room you entered the more incredible vast spaces you found. All awe inspiring in their individual way. It certainly is a magical place to shoot. I got something I like in almost every room that heightened my interest. (I will share a few of the already posted ones below). A library, two large pseudo function rooms, multiple rooms with fireplaces, staircases, and plenty of peeling paint throughout. Basically a cream-dream. I shot like a madman for 3 hours (roughly) because I had a family brunch at Noon and I know how I get while lost looking through one eye. 

I found a staircase that seemed to go to the roof, or at least the widows walk. When I reached the top it was a room complete with plenty of dead pigeons, pigeon shit, and not as many windows as I had wished. After a couple hours inside I had almost forgotten just how horribly cold it was out. Unfortunately for my right hand I saw a shot of the grounds I needed to take. It was only achievable while hanging my hand and camera out of a 40 foot high window. Oh yeah, and i can't work my camera with my glove on.  

This, this is the image that I thought was going to cost me some skin. I have never felt a burning like the one on my right hand after hanging my hand out the window for 3-5 minutes trying (and failing) to get this shot. After my final image for a stack i sprinted back down the ladder and stairs to where I knew there was a heater. I viciously rubbed my hands together trying to get feeling back into my fingers, It seemed like forever until i could feel the heat of my blood circulate back into my appendage. Would I do it again, Fucking right I would. This is what I do. Nothing will change that. No rest for the wicked.

Solid Accomplice 

The Love Gamble by John Mooney

 

It was around 8:30am on a Sunday when I read the message. It was a simple question that dictated the rest of my day.

"I see you made it out to the island."

"Yeah. That hike is hell but so worth it."

"Did you make it to the theater?".....and with this question my Sunday was sealed.

My ever-supportive mother offered to watch my 1 year old son while I went on this treacherous journey. This particular mission consisted of a light 3/4 mile of walking over beach and broken seawalls to start. Followed by a mile long tip-toe across a decrepit bridge as it rotted out from under itself about 60 feet over the harbor. Followed by another mile or so of anxiety ridden beach hiking, terrified of being spotted by harbor patrol. All to finish at a 45 foot wall of mud that ate any boots that weren't tied tight enough. I learned this defense tactic the hard way on my first trip out. All this done in the snow, wearing roughly 25 pounds of camera gear in a backpack. Now at the top, soaked and covered in mud I could finally get to work. Goonies never say die.

I had a rough idea of entry but the connecting hallway was active, With absolutely NO REASON to be where I was, my movements had to be precise. After about 15 minutes of just observing I determined I was safe to move along the building. With nothing but a pair of gloves, I found my way in through a rotted window board. Once inside I traveled up through a dark basement area with chairs set up in almost a movie theater feel. Too dark to shoot, I headed up stairs. Once I reached the top of a handicap ramp I was face to face with absolute beauty. I had traveled all this way to see the theater but ended up falling in love with a tiny library off to the side of the space. I spent the majority of my time searching through the books looking for anything I recognized, I set up a single book at the end of the long table. It was hand picked.

"The Love Gamble"

It was the perfect title to me. All of my actions up to this point had been a huge gamble, but I did it all for the love of the images. for the love of the search. For the love of the adventure. 

The Love Gamble