Wildroot: Photographing Buffalo / by Philip Krayna

The view up an empty grain silo. These towers, up to 100' in height, make incredible echo chambers.

The view up an empty grain silo. These towers, up to 100' in height, make incredible echo chambers.

As a teenager growing up in Buffalo, New York, exploring abandoned buildings was how my friends and I spent our free time. Fueled by the excitement of exploration, danger, and trespass, empty buildings were places where no adults dared to join us. They were our private places, and a vast studio in which I learned about photography. When I brought along my camera, it was to document things lost—the grandeur, energy, and dreams that once played out behind storefront doors, drawn dusty curtains, and crumbling factory walls.

Today, as the city of Buffalo experiences an economic rennaisance, I feel a sense of urgency to chronicle what will be lost again as redevelopment promises to wash clean many of these neglected buildings and their weary facades. My latest series of photos, Wildroot, takes its name from the empty factory that made hair tonic for many decades by the same moniker. These photos were shot in the cold, grey winter of early 2016.