|Notes on BOARDWALKS
"I was a Florida beach kid," says Kent Barker. "The Daytona Boardwalk represents a golden time for me, but I'm drawn to it by more than nostalgia for my youth. It's part of a vanishing world, and I'm fascinated by things that are on the road to disappearance."
Boardwalks, says Barker, are like classic diners: charming remnants of slower times that, before long, will exist only in the memorabilia we've created around them. Barker always liked the boardwalk best when it was empty. As a boy, he liked to wander Daytona's walk in the winter, when he could have the Ferris wheel to himself. As an adult, with his camera, Barker revisited Daytona early in the morning to capture that empty-ride feeling, although it was hardly necessary since the crowds themselves were disappearing along with a huge portion of the park.
"Where the pool and changing rooms used to be, there's now a fancy hotel," says Barker, who drove through three states in search of an intact boardwalk. He finally found Seaside, a still-thriving amusement park on the New Jersey shore; but as with Daytona, Barker chose to photograph Seaside without a human presence. "I make a living by shooting portraits," he says, "so photographing landscapes and still lifes is like meditation for me. Being by myself I can let go and get into where I am and hopefully make photographs that, while literal, have an emotional quality to them."