I’m in mourning over the end of summer.  It’s been an insane season as our wedding photography business grows at a furious pace, and increasingly difficult to keep up with our creative, artistic shoots.  One of our primary goals is to constantly be creating art, no matter how busy we are.  So it’s only now that we’ve been able to finish the latest shoot in our ongoing  series of decaying amusement parks and abandonment in “The Last One to Leave” with model and clown babe Rev. Mackenzie Moltov.

There is a sweet spot when shooting the remnants of a word gone by.  A moment in time when there is a still an abundance of light, and when the days are still warm enough that you’re not risking pneumonia to shoot.  The best spots may boast stunning graffiti, but before people who have no respect for the space destroy and loot it into complete destruction.   We are always careful not to damage or take from the areas we explore, but rather our goal is to breathe life and create something new and stunningly beautiful amongst the ruins of locations once filled with love and laughter.

In our last road trip of the summer with Mackenzie we set our sights on Penn Hills Resort.  Founded as a tavern in 1944, the resort grew in popularity in the 1960’s, as a honeymoon resort which catered to swingers.  With over 100 guest cabins, complete with heart shaped tubs, beds with mirrored ceilings, floor to ceiling carpeting, a wedding bell shaped swimming pool, and famous New Year’s Eve parties with the motto “No Balloon Left Unpopped”, the Poconos resort was completely abandoned in 2009 when it’s owner died.  It would have been an incredible time capsule had it not been so completely destroyed by idiots with no respect for the past.

We once again called upon stylist Joey Mason and with an armload of looks from Philly Aids Thrift, we worked quickly and silently, as Mackenzie embodied a lost and lonely soul in sad old rooms once dedicated to love and passion and happy couples.  As we worked our way through the old moldy, garbage filled pools, an office with boxes of paperwork, carefully climbed rotting wood stairways to abandoned cabins and picked our way through a tikki bar littered with shattered glass, we all felt an unease, as if we weren’t alone and dangerously vulnerable.  Since then, the old resort has been boarded up, and remains under intense scrutiny and patrol, as possibly having been a hiding place for fugitive and suspected cop killer Eric Frein.  We may be last to have gotten in, and to have created something incredibly beautiful in those ruins.

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Abandoned amusement park porn.  I’ll admit it, we’re totally obsessed.  We’ve done three now, each journey completely different, and with each one we learn something new, we get better.  Our first abandoned park shoot with a newly pregnant Rev MacKenzie Moltov was fairly terrifying.  We found an old roller coaster and a beautiful atrium where an old carousel once stood.  MacKenzie was flawless, even having the nerve to  hang naked from her hand loop, tiny baby bump exposed, on the old, rotting Cyclone.  But fear grabbed hold, and we didn’t explore the entire area as we should have.  Our second park shoot with our clown babe, was a beautiful mess.  A carousel, which had collapsed under the weight of winter’s brutal snow provided a perfect backdrop for MacKenzie, but the area was totally exposed to a major highway and we were surrounded by more “no trespassing signs” than anyone should really feel comfortable jumping over with a half naked clown babe.  We had to be quick with that shoot, and in our haste, we didn’t attempt to get into the buildings or to change MacKenzie’s costume, which was a mistake we were determined never to make again.

And now our third and best abandoned park shoot to date.  We took our time to find the best, most private entrance.  MacKenzie assembled some gorgeous costumes, including a fabulous wedding dress loaned to us by ultimate thrift store guru Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou, manager and co-founder of  Philly Aids Thrift, which continues to be a treasure trove of costuming and prop finds.   With the help of  PAT  stylist Joey Mason, we found more wedding dresses than we had dreamed possible, and the perfect one for our fairy tale adventure.  This time we were determined to take our time, make costume changes and explore every building we possibly could get into.  And get into them, we did! Although the buildings had been vandalized, covered in graffiti, with broken windows and trash, each building held treasures from past decades of children’s scenes.  The buildings weren’t entered by visitors to the park, but families would press a button to see characters animated inside each one.

We used one building as a home base for costume changes.  Before we got to the wedding dress, we came dangerously close to getting caught by some men working at an adjacent facility.  Two  parks ago, we would have bolted.  Not this time.  We hadn’t gotten to our favorite look or to our clown tea party. We were determined.  We ducked from one building to another until we were out of sight.  We found a spot where they couldn’t see us, which was fortunately Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater’s giant orange house.  Perfect for our clown bride.  We stayed calm, clear and focused.  We got our wedding dress shots.  MacKenzie changed into several different outfits and had her own clown tea party, which Paul used to make a brilliant composite shot.

And this time…WE GOT VIDEO.  We want to take this further.  Go on the road, explore more of the US and hit some hauntingly beautiful decay around the world.  This is only the beginning of a fabulous new journey with our clown babe.  Stay tuned.  It’s quite possible that we’ll need help on our journey to shoot these beautiful remnants of childhood memories in a way that no one else has ever done before.  And we’ll need a strong team to join us in our adventure of making more beautiful art.