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"Photo Archaeologist", Rick Decorie, Captures Times Gone By in Abandoned Cars, Buildings & More

Updated: Jan 21, 2023

Rick Decorie's incredible photograph of this abandoned vehicle could easily pass for a painting! Scroll down for more of his vintage-feel photographs...

Some people might call a rusty abandoned car junk, but to photographer Rick Decorie, there’s art to be found. Whether it’s the pattern of rust, or the unique hood ornament or an interesting vintage grill, Rick’s keen eye spots its specialness easily.

“I like focusing on abandoned things and seeing the beauty in them,” Rick explains. “Just because they’re no longer serviceable doesn’t mean they can’t still be enjoyed.”

Rick, from Cissna Park, IL south of Kankakee, uses a Canon 80 D camera. His favorite lens is a 24-70 mm. He’ll often use a zoom lens to avoid trespassing and a tripod. Sometimes he works in color, and sometimes he decides a photo is much more dramatic when switched into black and white.

Largely self-taught, he’s been serious about taking photos and honing his skills since about 1975. Through a combination of workshops and YouTube videos he has learned from others. Recently he joined the Kankakee Camera club for the camaraderie and information that is regularly shared for improving skills.

Now that he’s retired, he can often be found taking the “road less taken” meandering along rural roads seeking empty buildings or salvage yards. As he likes to say, “It’s all about the discovery.”

“To me, it’s like a treasure hunt. Photographing old things helps people remember the past – guess that’s why I like to refer to myself as a photo archaeologist,” he says.

In addition to matting his work that’s printed on standard photographic paper, he also uses a company that prints his photographs on canvas or metal.

He enjoys appearing in outdoor art shows and meeting customers face-to-face where he can share the back stories of his photographs.

“I really want people to look into the photograph and not just at it,” Rick advises. “It’s all about getting drawn into the subject matter.”

His work is available at the Mclean County Art Center In Bloomington, IL and on his website: Rick Decorie Photography


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