Wednesday, December 30, 2015

QC/D Year in Review: 2015

To quote NPR's Ira Glass: "a few quick notes before we start..."

...I know a lot of people may just skip the text and scroll through the photos, so I want to get the main message out before I start with the photographs: Thank you.

Thank you to QC/D's readers, contributors and followers. Thank you to friends, family, coworkers and the folks who remember my coffee order. I appreciate all the support you've given me not just in this past year, but always. It means more than you know.

And to quote Ira again: "Ok, here's the show:"

The first post I made in 2015 was about a project that recapped the year before: 2014. I pushed every individual photograph I made on my various cameras (digital slr's, film and cell phone) in 2014 into one sequential time lapse video. It was a pretty big undertaking and this year with all that's going on I didn't really have the time to repeat the project, although I'd like to in the future. So I figured to recap 2015 I'd just go through and sample some of the highlights of my photographic and writing work in the year that spans not just Queen City Discovery articles, but personal work and professional work as well:


I met my girlfriend Laura in the summer of 2014, we started dating on New Year's Day 2015. In a few days we'll celebrate our one year anniversary. She's been a constant source of support throughout the year along with everyone else thanked at the beginning of this article. We spent New Year's Eve and the first day of 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. Upon returning to Cincinnati, I started prepping new QC/D articles and got caught up in some breaking news that ended up becoming the year's first article:

At 11 PM on Monday, January 19th, 2015 the former Hopple St. Overpass collapsed onto Interstate 75 South. One construction worker was killed. I joined a slew of reporters from the Enquirer and local TV stations on the scene:

I wrote Chapter 7 in the "Kings Waffle" series, a story about a group of regulars who show up to a local joint every wednesday night. I plan to revisit this series more in 2016.

Our first Urban Exploration article came out in February when myself and my friend Mike got to tour the former Kings Island Resort as it was being demolished. "Last Guests of the Kings Island Resort" seemed to be the end of the hotel's story, but a few days after we shot our photos and wrote the story: demo work stopped. The resort as of this writing is still sitting half demolished with no clear future.

I shot a wedding with my friend Kelli on Valentine's Day:

I also did the engagement photos for my longtime friend Joe and his then fiancee now wife Ashley, where they added their own unique twist:

QC/D contributor Mike Sopronyi provided some photos that documented the demolition of an iconic abandoned hotel in Dayton, Ohio. I had written an article on the place back in 2012, Mike provided some updates and closure:

In March I was in Lexington, KY and made a meandering and wandering trip on the way back to Cincinnati that included stopping and meeting some interesting characters such as Charles "Punky" Beckett:

I wrote an article about Macaron Bar, a favorite spot for my girlfriend and I as well as a unique local business that speaks to the city's ever changing identity.

My friends and I made a trip to the Eastern side of Ohio in search of one of the two only McDonald's restaurants that still sell "McPizza." Yes, it's delicious and yes, there's a full fledged article on it eventually coming.

As spring came, the Ohio River started flooding and provided some unique views of the city and Northern Kentucky:

April brought a QC/D article about the demolition of a residence in the city of Fort Thomas, KY. Shot, edited and produced solely with mobile resources (iPhone and iPad), the article was a test for QC/D to see if I could use mobile technology to improve my work flow when I'm traveling or away from my home base. That concept is still something I'm toying with:

April was also the time I announced that I was starting work on "Fading Ads of Cincinnati," my first book backed by a national publisher:

I did some commercial photo work for my friend Chris, documenting the houses he was selling. Chris isn't just a good friend who also appreciates early 90's hip hop, he's a damn good realtor:

Laura and I traveled to Indianapolis for my birthday where I turned 26. It was our chance to explore and appreciate our Midwestern neighbor. While the article drew the ire of Indianapolis redditors, I still love the "Circle City:"

I also did some work for Escape The Room Challenge, an awesome new attraction in West Chester, Ohio. From the same folks who created "EnterTRAINment Junction." This immersive experience is one of the nation's highest quality versions of the emerging "escape room" attraction scene:

In May, NKU student Christian Glass joined the QC/D team as the site's first intern. He lead off with a story about Rabbit Hash, KY:

Followed by an editorial about his "distaste" for the annual "Taste of Cincinnati:"

I got in some time to just wander and explore the city:

My buddy Nick showed me the abandoned runway/airport he grew up on and still works near (article coming soon):

I did some engagement photos at Spring Grove Cemetery:

And some adorable baby photos at Sharon Woods:

There were graduation photos at Xavier:

And OTR high-end fashion store Kit and Ace purchased some of my work to display in their new storefront:

I contributed as a freelance photographer to the new Kunst | Built Art  magazine:

I shot a wedding for my childhood friend Max and his bride Amanda. Amanda would sadly pass away in September. Her emotional story and a tribute to her cause can be found here.

In June, QC/D's Cameron Knight and I put together a piece on the forgotten and hopefully soon to be restored Masonic Lodge in Cincinnati's Price Hill neighborhood:

Followed by my tales of exploring the tunnels and roadways of the abandoned sections of the Pennsylvania Turnpike:

My friend Joe, who's engagement photos I mentioned earlier, got married as we reunited with high school friends:

My friend's Brinin and Patrick let me document their engagement at the Cincinnati observatory while they told everyone to "live long and prosper:"

I partnered with Episcopal Retirement Homes while they hosted their "Over The Edge For Elders" event, which raised money by having participants rappel down the side of a building for charity. The highlight was 90 year old Astar, the oldest person to participate.

July came and by this time I was dividing every waking moment in so many different ways. I was looking for a new apartment, packing for a move, working 40 hours at a regular job, freelancing and writing a book. Cincinnati also hosted the All-Star Game. Thanks to the generosity of my family, I was able to attend the game and take a break from my stress and schedule for awhile. The last time an All-Star game happened here, I wasn't even born yet. Who knows if I'll even be alive the next time Cincinnati gets to host one? All in all, I shot several photographs to document the occasion and published them on my personal website.

With all the Reds moments I've lived and suffered through and all the things I've seen in that ballpark - the 86th annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game has to be at the top of the list:

I also had the opportunity to reconnect with family who came into town and thanks to my girlfriend's family, I had the opportunity to take a vacation which caused us to pass through "beautiful" Lima, Ohio:

And finally up to Indian River, Michigan:

I even had the chance to cross the Mackinaw Bridge:

And stop to see some roadside attractions on the way home:

I also photographed my first same sex wedding in the wake of the Supreme Court's historic decision in Obergfell v. Hodges:

The months of August, September and October were quiet on QC/D. I was in the process of moving and finishing the book along with working my regular job. I dropped off the map for awhile, not just on here, but in life. I was still working freelance though, shooting the occasional wedding for folks like Chris and Rebecca:

And Mallory and Keith (who brought special guest Mr. Redlegs):

An image I posted to Instagram made the front page of the United Soccer League's website. It was a photo I took of an FC Cincinnati shirt I bought. I'm excited to write more about the city's new soccer team and explain why I'm extremely excited for it as well as the implications this team has for the city. More on that later, but in the meantime I've already purchased my season tickets:

I relocated from Fort Thomas, KY to West Chester, OH where I currently live. In November, I finally caught back up with QC/D as I posted some photos of a historic ship and offered an explanation for my absence:

I continued working when I could, photographing community cooking:

And art portfolios for clients:

I finally got back to updating QC/D, bringing back some of the classic urban exploration themes with an article about an abandoned country club:

By the end of November, my new book, "Fading Ads of Cincinnati," launched. It's the first book I've authored and photographed through a major publisher. It's currently on shelves at several name brand retailers and available online. I took to local television and radio to promote it along with several book signings:

The book tells the story of the old, hand painted signs still clinging to the bricks around the city. It also highlights the folks who created them, the folks who cherish them and the businesses and products they represented. After months of work, I'm proud to say that I couldn't be happier with it and the photographs I made for it:

Christian then went from intern and student to graduate and regular QC/D contributor. His article on the Overlook Lodge and Bar was a unique twist on your standard nightlife review:

I continued the story of Cincinnati's abandoned railroad lines with an article about a hidden tunnel in Mason, Ohio:

And then I brought back our recurring "Subrubia Lost" series:

I did some work for an upcoming issue of Kunst. These guys are putting together an amazing publication with equally amazing local stories:

Finally, I closed out the QC/D articles for the year with "Black Friday in Retail Purgatory." It's a long article. One that reflects my career in retail, the history of one of the area's forgotten shopping malls and an update to a story I did back in 2008.

As I finish this, I'm listening to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and drinking a beer. I'm getting ready to take a vacation as soon as the year turns. I have another book signing coming up and I have plenty more QC/D updates on deck along with several other projects. It's been a great year and I can't wait to tell more stories in 2016.

Some final thoughts as I look back on 2015:
- The Cincinnati Streetcar is going to be awesome.
- Walking Dead was "meh."
- I'm still a Bengals observer, not yet again a "fan."
- This upcoming Reds season looks doubtful at best.
- The Waffle House is still my favorite place to go.
- The Leftovers Season 2 was the greatest thing I've ever seen on television.
- Jurassic World was terrible.
- Star Wars was pretty good.

And if I can leave you with some random wisdom:
- Never bet on the Columbus Blue Jackets.
- Trust me, cable t.v. isn't worth having anymore.

and finally:

- Miller Lite tastes much when your friends leave it in your refrigerator and you never spent a dime on it (thanks Nathan).


  1. You had me at Mc Pizza! No Thank you is necessary for me. In fact I should thank you! It is you who takes time out of your life to share with us your pictures and thoughts. All I do is sit back and neglect work for a short while and get lost in the pictures. I look forward to your coming articles that you mention above. Thanks for all you do and here's to a great 2016!


    1. Brad, thanks so much!

      The McPizza is actually pretty good. I was incredibly surprised. Thanks for reading and we'll see you in 2016!

  2. I enjoy your abandoned buildings series so much. I was hoping you would do a piece on the Erlanger Showcase Cinema in Erlanger, KY before it was torn down in October. The marquee is still there but the building is gone now. Anyhow, I hope to see more abandoned pieces. Love your work, Ronny. Please keep it up and Happy New Year!