Author captures glimpses of America through time

Wed, 11/08/2023 - 8:00am

Boothbay Harbor native Arend Thibodeau translated his passion for photography into a fascinating book series on forgotten buildings and the stories contained within them.

“Residential Ruins of Maine” is the second release along with “Forgotten Industry and Institutions of Maine” in Thibodeau’s “America Through Time” book series. An exploration of humanity’s remnants, from time capsules that appear untouched for decades to abandoned places that have simply been forgotten. Thibodeau now resides in Harmony, Maine with his wife, and has been a professional photographer since 1996. 

“I happened upon an old house that was in a state of disrepair, obviously abandoned for decades,” Thibodeau said. “My curiosity got the better of me and I went inside and was enthralled to find a scene that looked like someone was watching TV in the 1950s, got up to get a pack of cigarettes and never came back.” That was the beginning of getting the bug, not just photographing these spaces, but also finding the stories behind them.

“I first posted the pictures on Instagram with some prose attached, and a publisher reached out and asked me if I had considered putting my images and the stories together for a book. I now have two books published and am working on a third. There is a sense of urgency for me, as many of the buildings photographed in these books are already gone.

“I’m fascinated with the things we used to depend on for our way of life and how that has shifted and changed. We could never have milk in our coffee back in the day if it weren’t for the milkman. I wanted to capture a little bit of that memory before it is all totally gone.

“If someone spends their whole life surrounding themselves with these things, and then they just end up sitting there frozen in time, you can’t help but wonder why? I try to capture the images in such a way that they in and of themselves tell the story, the words just help.”

When asked what the project means to him, Thibodeau answered, “It gives me a moment to reflect on how far we have come and how important our history is to the human record. We wouldn’t have the luxuries and conveniences we have today if others hadn’t paved the way. When we look beyond the decay.”

Thibodeau says in closing “We see remnants of the human condition hidden among lost relics.”

Arend Thibodeau will be discussing  his “America Through Time” book series at a free Author Talk on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 1 p.m., at Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library, 4 Oak Street, Boothbay Harbor. For more information, call (207) 633-3112.