Abandoned Door – A Metaphor for Transition


Someone, and no matter who, inhabits my head like it’s an empty house, he enters, he leaves, he bangs each door behind him, powerless I put up with this ruckus.
Someone, and maybe it’s me, palms my most private thoughts, he crumples them, returns them to dust.
Someone, and it’s much later now, slowly walks across the room and, not seeing me, stops to contemplate the havoc.
Someone, and no matter where, collects the pieces of my shadow.
~ Claude Estaban, translated by Joanie Mackowski

Many photographers have an affinity and passion for capturing doors as a subject in their art.

Doors are a popular subject, their metaphorical power captures our imagination, wonder, and sense of questioning, too.

Locked? Unlocked? Barred? Ajar? Abandoned?

So many questions. Doors symbolize a transition, a passage, entering from light into dark, or the opposite, leaving by way of a door, and entering into light from a dark interior. The bride once was carried across the threshold of her new home by her new husband. There are doors guarded by fierce creatures – temples come to mind, but I have seen many a library graced with twin, growling lions, or even scarier creatures.

I photographed this door on an abandoned farmstead in eastern Pennsylvania a few years ago.

I cataloged and labeled it, but only recently pulled it out for a serious look. I fell in love with the greens and reds, with the combination of the parallel slats and the vertical panels on the door. And I liked the way nature was gradually taking over the man-made structure, adding to the abandoned feeling.

Do you photograph doors, or notice doors, or use doors in your art or writing?

Do you ever focus on other passages or transitions — gates, windows, tunnels, stairways?  Places that lead to other spaces?

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. I love this image. It’s beautiful. I look at it and think that if I walk through the door, I’ll find myself in an enchanted place.

    I photograph doors, windows, pathways, and portals of all kinds, and each seems to have a different meaning.

  2. I love the colours of this image! It’s really beautiful. I photograph a lot of natural archways made by trees. They always seem like an invitation into a bigger mystery.

    • Yes, those natural tree archways always open into a new world. They beckon to the casual hiker, “Try this way . . . ”

      I myself like to photograph roads or paths disappearing into the distance or crossroads. Where do they lead? Which way to go?

      Beautiful picture, Bo.

  3. Who would expect such a color scheme on a cast-off!

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