Author Dinner Series

Photographer explores abandoned structures in Kentucky-based book

He will discuss his book at upcoming
Author Dinner Series

LA GRANGE, Ky. (October 2019) – Photographer Jay Ferrell never anticipated becoming an author. And he never thought that a book on abandoned buildings would capture the attention of so many readers.
“Honestly, I had no idea a book on abandoned series photography would ever be a reality,” said the New York native. “I explored abandoned buildings, often with my friend, for fun, not knowing what I would do with the photos. Maybe one day I’d do a gallery showing and hopefully sell some of the works.”
After blogging about some of his adventures and posting some photos on social media, he found out that “people really seemed to enjoy it, more than I thought. I still thought my abandoned building photography was limited to adventure and creative outlet and artistic passion.”

Jay Ferrell

Once he received an email from Jay Slater, a London-based publisher, asking if Farrell would be interested in authoring a book featuring his abandoned building photography. He was naturally “skeptical and wanted to make sure it was legitimate.”
Ferrell learned that the series was brand new and only one additional author had been contracted at that point. “I saw the quality of the design and printing with this publisher, and I liked the people I was talking with, so that was the beginning of things to come,” he said. “I had an attorney review the publishing contract and then moved forward with some apprehension about the technical end of it. There were growing pains on both ends, but we worked together well, and I looked forward to keeping the series growing.”
He said there is “a lot I’ve enjoyed learning about the book and publication business, especially since I’ve never been a reader. Now I can contribute to those who do, and those who love visual arts.”
Farrell will be the featured author for the next Arcadia Publishing & The History Press Author Dinner Series at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, at the Oldham County History Center in La Grange. He will present a program on his book, “Abandoned Kentucky.” The program will include a light meal, cash bar and take place inside the Rob Morris Education Building, 207 W. Jefferson St.
Farrell, 48, has been a photographer for the past 15 years. He is mostly self taught and attended a few educational workshops to learn the technical and business aspects of being self-employed. His main emphasis is on wedding photography.
Based in Nashville, Tenn., since the early 1990s, Farrell said he likes to travel and explore places. That led him to seek out abandoned buildings. “Originally, I sought abandoned buildings to photograph models. I enjoyed the contrast between the distressed building and the beauty of the model. I realized later that I neglected to explore and photograph the building itself before getting started.”
He now finds the buildings “to be less problematic and more rewarding to explore. No scheduling conflicts or opinions, just a dilapidated structure awaiting my lens to document it for possibly the final time.”
As to the end result, “I like the eerie feeling and mood to the photographs, and the pure character of the distress. The ‘life after people’ element is also interesting to me. Inhabitants, vandalism, time left behind, deterioration of the building all work together and tell a story that is a fun adventure to uncover. The passer-by may be curious, and others may not care, but I explore what most normal people wonder about, or are indifferent to.”
Over the years, he has found himself traveling more and more since abandoned locations in the Nashville area “have become scarce in recent years. It usually means packing a cooler with some water and granola bars and hitting the back roads with a full tank of gas.”
As more people come to admire and trust his work, he has found that “some tell me about places they know of, which is a huge compliment. Some places are more interesting than others, and I don’t stop unless I find a building or house interesting. Not every discovery makes it to the books either.”
Other books he has published include: “Abandoned Alabama,” “Abandoned Tennessee,” “Abandoned Nashville” and “Abandoned Mississippi.” A second volume of “Abandoned Kentucky – Bygone Echoes of the Bluegrass State,” hits the shelves and Amazon on Nov. 25.
In February 2019, Ferrell took a three-day trip to Mississippi to explore some sites. Having no idea where he would end up, he also had no home base in the area and no knowledge of the areas where he would be traveling. The only thing he was sure of was that he was meeting with a Monroe County historian on the final day who would ride along with him.
“In the interim, I drove for hours at a time – sometimes to strike gold, other times to come up empty. I enjoy doing research on certain places after exploring, and the history the historian shared with me of places she took me.”

• Reservations are required for the Author Dinner Series program. Call (502) 222-0826. Cost is $20 for OCHS members; $22 non-members.

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