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I’ve been addicted to iPhoneography for about a year now. As far as addictions go, I’m not too worried about this one”¦but it does get me into some interesting situations every now and then.

Whenever I get a spare hour (or two) I like to hop on my motorcycle in search of iPhoto ops. I head to the parts of the city I’ve never been to before, and try to find the beauty in even the dirtiest parts of San Francisco. And I truly mean dirty.

On one of these iPhoto adventures I found myself in the Bayview district. I was cruising around dead ends and empty lots along the water when I came upon one of those tall wooden fences topped with barbed wire. Some people might think “I should get away.” I think “Oooow, there must be something good on the other side. I wonder if I can find a way in.”  Sorry Mom.

At this point I truly couldn’t tell you where I was. If I wanted to go back, I’d have to meander around again until I found the barbed-wire fence. The place is completely unmarked though, and telling one tall fence from another in the Bayview could be difficult. I don’t even know if it has a name.

As I pulled up to the huge gate, a woman happened to be walking out with a gigantic dog. That’s right. A huge junkyard dog (hopefully named The Beast). I smiled my most charming smile at her and introduced myself. I think the pure shock of my friendliness coupled with my eagerness to see what was on the other side of the fence confused the poor woman. She agreed to give me a tour of what was indeed a junkyard. She asked me to “just head around to the other side, though”¦it’s a bit safer.”  My adrenaline pumped up yet another notch.

At first glace, it was just piles and piles of trash without any discernable walkways between them. It was about the size of one city block, not too huge, but certainly large enough to get lost in. All of a sudden I was glad I had a guide.

As I walked in, the woman (let’s call her Emily) introduced herself and told me a little bit about the junkyard. She was a bit ragged, wearing mismatched gardening gloves and a big floppy hat, but seemed completely harmless. Once she got started, she couldn’t stop talking. Apparently she lives there and earns her keep by stripping all the old cars of anything valuable. She couldn’t wait to show me some of her favorite cars, which she called her favorite “pieces”  as though they were amazing works of art.

We started our trek through the junkyard with extreme care. Nothing seemed very stable. Emily knew exactly where the best footholds were, so I made sure to follow her every move. There were mountains of trash everywhere-cars on top of cars, what seemed like chunks of old buildings, cans, clothes, everything and then some. But the cars, those were her favorite.

These are a few of the shots I got while we walked (read: stumbled) around the junkyard. Emily had a story to go along with every car, and every step I took was harrowing. I loved it.


“The Driver’s Seat.”   
This old Chevy had its driver’s seat window smashed out, so I was able to half climb in, half hold-on-for-dear-life to get this shot. The all-pink interior is not a filter”¦it’s years and years of clay dust caked onto every surface. Nasty.


“The Holdens.”   
These were Emily’s absolute favorites. Even as I stood there taking this shot, she seemed to get lost in a dream about them. Emily told me one of her favorite pastimes was imagining what the cars’ “lives were like in their pre-retirement.” 

“Secret Santa.”  Since Emily lives in the Junkyard, she likes to “spruce it up a bit”  with some of the old decorations she finds in the unending heaps of trash.


“Beauty in Decay.” 
I truly almost bit it while trying to get this shot. I had to prop myself up on an unsteady pile of ”¦stuff”¦ and reach into the unknown insides of the truck to pull myself up. I’m so glad I did.

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2 Comments

  1. jennifer l. chan says:

    These images are amazing! Great article!

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