Abandoned, Like an Empty House


Abandoned © 2012 Bo Mackison

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 from the French by Joanie Mackowski

I am not in a minority when it comes to photographers, and perhaps other 2D artists as well, who have an affinity and passion for capturing doors as the main subject in some of their art. Doors are a popular subject, their metaphorical power captures our imagination and sense of discovery, too.

“What is behind that door? Why was it abandoned? Is it locked?” So many questions starts the imagination engines churning in the mind.

And the symbolism. I think in almost every culture, there is meaning in doors. As a transition, as 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 found this door on an abandoned farmstead in eastern Pennsylvania a few years ago. I catalogued and labeled it, but only recently pulled it out for a serious look. I immediately feel 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 is gradually taking over the man-made structure, and adding to its abandoned feeling. Even in a color-coordinated way!

Do you photograph doors, or notice doors, or use doors in your art? Do you focus on other passages or transition architecture — gates, windows, tunnels, stairs?


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She loves photographing doors, windows, stairways, gates, and other 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. What a lovely old door! It has such character. Great find, Bo, and I love what you did with it.

    I photograph all kinds of doors, gates, pathways, portals, etc. It must come with the photography gene. 😉

  2. What a gorgeous door. Love the color tones and textures.

  3. Wonderful door and colors. Great shot! I like how the reds and greens of the vegetation are picked up and repeated in the door. Yes, I photograph doors and windows and other architectural features. Like flowers, they tend to stay in one place and don’t talk back. 🙂

  4. Gandalf says:

    What a wonderfully tactile photo. I love it.

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