I am a fine art photographer from Fort Wayne, Indiana. I was born here in 1975; and this northeast Indiana city has been my home except for a year and a half spent in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
My work is primarily documentary in nature. I am a historian as well as an artist, and my interest in the past drives much of my work. Photography has allowed me to explore the world around me in a way that few people do. We live our lives surrounded by the evidence of the past. Old buildings stand as monuments to lives lived long ago, and old people are living witnesses to history.
Every year, I see the world around me change. Buildings demolished, new ones built. People die while new lives begin. Open a history book, and you'll read hundreds or even thousands of pages of text about the wealthy, the famous, the powerful, the important. What of the silent masses, whose lives are the backbone of civilization?
The Allen County Public library in downtown Fort Wayne has one of the largest collections of geneological research materials in North America. You can go there and uncover your family's history by looking up birth certificates, marriage licenses, high school and college graduation records, records of military service, census records, etc.
In doing such research, you'll quickly find that the lives of most of those who came before us have been reduced to statistics and dates typed on old government record forms. You can find when people were born, what education they achieved, when they married, if they had children. What you cannot find is the most important thing of all: the real stories of their lives.
My work has allowed me to see and preserve the memory of the forgotten commonplace lives that history ignores. An old building sits abandoned, but it is usually not completely empty. People leave behind furniture, clothes, books, pictures, toys.
One abandoned house that I photographed had a wedding dress in the attic. That dress, the curtains on the windows, and some shampoo bottles in the medicine cabinet were all that were left behind. These are not mere things, but a question: why? Surely there must be a tragic event that made a family abandon their home, leaving that dress in the attic.
Another house was full of broken furniture and so much trash that the floor was almost completely covered in garbage, old paperwork, and torn garbage bags. Among the garbage were reminders that this had once been a happy family's home. Scattered through the piles of junk were fifteen dolls, including several Christmas-themed dolls such as a Santa Claus and a snowman. There were numerous children's books about Christmas, with titles such as Baby's Christmas and The Christmas Santa Almost Forgot. A little sticker on a piece of wood that I found on the floor said simply: "Love makes the world go round." With the Doll House, I left my usual documentary focus to build a story with the dolls over a period of several months before the house was finally demolished.
I have also met, photographed, and told the stories of many people that I have met in my journeys through the years. People like Richard Youse, an 87 year old Indiana farmer who lived with his fifteen cats in the ancient farmhouse that his parents bought in 1924.
I am a full time professional artist, with a large number of group and individual exhibitions to my credit. I am also a graphic designer and web designer, and my fine art photographs have been used in a number of advertisements, magazine articles, and music CD covers.
Aspiring photographers often write me asking for technical help, and for them I have created a seperate website, crawfordphotoschool.com, with a number of free tutorials. I am also available for private lessons for those who live near enough to meet me in person.