The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update


April 8, 2012

Bloomington photographer to speak at libraries

Bower has published 7 books with photos from around Indiana

ANDERSON, Ind. — John Bower has committed the number 2,099 to memory. That’s the number of Hoosier cities and towns he’s visited while shooting photos for his seven books.

“Sometimes you can drive for hours and hours and not see anything worth photographing,” Bower said. “And then you will go around the corner and say, ‘Wow! That really needs to have its picture taken.”

Bower, of Bloomington, will discuss his work at the Anderson Public Library on Tuesday and at the Alexandria Public Library on Saturday as part of National Library Week.

Bower will be speaking at the Anderson library at 6 p.m. Tuesday and at 2 p.m. Saturday in Alexandria.

He hasn’t always been a photographer. Bower only started taking photos about 10 years ago and since has driven more than 100,000 miles exploring the Hoosier state with his camera.

He joked that he was surprised he had “an eye” for photography and was shocked at the quality of his pictures when he first began. But putting the images into a book was an easy move. Each book’s production has rolled into the next, making the seven books seem nearly seamless.

“As I’ve gone along, each one has evolved into the one I work on next,” Bower said.

He lives in Bloomington and began photographing “fading, forlorn and forgotten” places in central Indiana’s hill country. While working on that book he would often stop and eat a picnic lunch in a cemetery, as they are usually interesting, quiet and peaceful places. The second book featured many of the cemetery statues discovered on his lunch breaks.

While traveling to small towns to get photos for the second book, Bower noticed that many towns had buildings where the upper half was still preserved while the bottom half was remodeled.

“We looked at interesting details — stairways, attic spaces, the tops of buildings,” he said. “It was very interesting.”

And while working on the “Second Stories” project, Bower realized that the tallest things in most of these small towns were grain elevators which he decided to make the star of his fourth book. The focus was on grist mills and grain elevators, many of which had closed down.

Bower discovered there weren’t only a lot of shuttered mills and elevators, but also many other businesses — tanneries, gas stations, garages, factories.

“It was amazing the variety of places we discovered for that book,” he said, of the fifth, “Silent Workplaces.”

Many of those businesses were transportation-related, which Bower thought deserved its own book, “Journey’s End.” Its photographs included Ohio River tow boats that had been banked to a Studebaker factory in South Bend. That book opened Bower’s eyes to other shuttered buildings, this time public buildings — schools, churches and other kinds of public buildings.

“I love doing these kinds of presentations,” Bower said of the talks he’ll be giving at the libraries. “I think people will be really amazed at the diversity of the really fascinating places around the state photographed.”

In Anderson, Bower will talk about each of the seven different books, while in Alexandria he will focus on “Silent Workplace.”

“I don’t see these places as abandoned houses, barns, factories or schools,” he said. “I don’t see them as abandoned and forgotten and falling apart. What I see is a place that has so many stories that it could tell if they could talk. I see how important those places used to be to us.”

Find Abbey Doyle on Facebook and @heraldbulletin on Twitter, or call 640-4805.

Text Only
  • Dog owners invited to Easter egg hunt McCulloch Park will be going to the dogs on Saturday. Residents are invited to join in for the Easter egg hunt specifically for canines and their human companions.

    April 16, 2014

  • FEA HB0416 Reno Sweeney Review: Classic Cole Porter tunes in 'Anything Goes' Light-hearted entertainment reigns at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre as the stage is filled with sparkling costumes, quick stepping and even a little slapstick thrown into the mix. “Anything Goes,” now playing through May 11, may be a musical celebrating its 80th anniversary, but the humor is not lost on modern audiences.

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Grace's Magic' to help Second Harvest Ball State graduate Cindee Cox is the author of “Grace’s Magic,” a children’s book geared around helping others and the community in which they live.

    April 14, 2014

  • 'Hunger Games' top winner at MTV Movie Awards

    "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" earned the prize for best film at Sunday night's MTV Movie Awards, besting even top Oscar winner "12 Years a Slave."

    April 13, 2014

  • NWS - HB0414 - Digital library- JC Alexandria library going digital Alexandria-Monroe Public Library using new digital program to make borrowing the latest books and movies easier than ever.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS - HB0414 - gourmet sampler1 Special Olympian headlines 30th Gourmet Sampler

    Friends came by the table of Paul Porcaro on Sunday, asking if he was going to sing again this year.

    April 13, 2014 4 Photos

  • Drama camp to perform 'The Chronicles of Narnia' This summer, local drama director Darlene Lee plans to embark on an adventure into "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

    April 12, 2014

  • Nirvana, Kiss lead new class in Rock Hall of Fame

    Nirvana, who set music and fashion trends with their grunge sound but whose career was cut short by leader Kurt Cobain's suicide 20 years ago, led inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Thursday.

    April 11, 2014

  • Reservoir group conducting survey In an effort to get a pulse on how local residents are reacting to the proposed Mounds Lake reservoir, the Corporation for Economic Development is asking for comments through an online survey.

    April 11, 2014

  • NWS - HB0411 - gourmet sampler file Gourmet Sampler to feature new attractions People may be coming for the food, but this weekend’s Gourmet Sampler is going to be all about the athletes. This year's edition is adding new events to raise even more money for the Madison County Special Olympics.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.