Beneath The Tracks: A Photo Essay of Loss & Resilience

Loss can present itself in a variety of ways: death of a friend or loved one, a relationship breakup, leaving home or moving to a new place, loss of physical ability, loss of financial security, etc. Sudden loss (like crimes, accidents, or suicide) leaves no room to prepare, while predictable loss creates grief related to the anticipation of the loss, as well as the loss itself. The experience of loss is profoundly human, yet it is often something we suffer alone, in solitude. How do we build resilience against future losses? Can we ever replace that which we grieve?

Keizer, Oregon

Taken in an alleyway leading under the train tracks that run through my hometown of Keizer, Oregon. This harsh light illuminates the dusty brick wall it barely hangs onto. Streetlights and telephone poles standing in the rain, towering over the wet cement.

Beneath the Underpass

A young girl (Olivya Damisch) stands beneath the light, enveloped in its cold nature. The world itself cold, wet, and empty. Keizer only months before suffered the loss of a teenage girl who both Olivya and I were close with. We didn’t belong to a small town, but this seemed to have impacted everyone. Keizer itself became blue. Every sad set of eyes, every memory, every street corner, classroom, church, picture, story, flashback, streetlight, rainy night, starry sky, song, and every face of every person I saw that I just knew in that moment was thinking about it. Everything had become a reminder.

Something Peaceful

In the alleyway, we find cover from the rain under the tracks. Though a stained and unwashed corner of our town, the underpass held a safe quality about it. Something peaceful.

Warmth

The worn and dusty tungsten flood lights that line the underpass casts a glow over us: a sense of warmth in the cold.

Time to Breathe

Olivya stands below the flood light. Though it doesn’t bring us absolute joy, or any resolution, that moment in the warmth brings us peace. It gives us time to breathe, and the peace of mind to not have to worry about our next move. To mourn, and to remember. It’s not an answer, but a momentary escape. To not be surrounded by grief, or the progressing world that never slows down, never takes the time to breathe, never opens its eyes but keeps on moving and moving like the trains that rumble above us.

It’s silent where we are now.

The human condition is based on the resilience of our species. That even if we have to find it in back alleys where everything around us drips and smells, humans can find something of revelation in it. Something to allow us to see a point in advancing and growing.

But along with this, we as a species must never lose sight of where we came from. Our shared experiences, and the experiences of others we may never fully understand ourselves.

Our time beneath the tracks was spent reveling in the peace moments without words brought.

Momentary silence.


Braeden Olheiser is an Oregon-based photographer and has spent the majority of his photography career shooting on color negative film. Mixing years of experience in videography, Braeden uses his knowledge of cameras, framing, composition, and lighting to gain an advantage on other ametuer photographers. Braeden also shares a great passion for cinema, which reflects in his advanced use of lighting.

Braeden often plays with long exposure times in shooting astro-photographs, along with using double exposures to create experimental images.

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