04 April 2007

I've got a cow that went dry and a hen that won't lay, a big stack of bills that gets bigger each day, I'm busted

I've been thinking about doing a series of photos on cash advance stores for some time now. If their social significance isn't immediately obvious, their ubiquity round these parts certainly is--they are springing up everywhere around SW Virginia. There are at least 5 in Radford/Fairlawn. On the one hand, it's true that many people need short-term loans to avoid late fees at the bank or handle emergencies (i.e.-car breaking down). I've been in that position a few times myself, and the cash advance places were the easiest solution. That ease, though, is part of the problem. Once you've borrowed money, there's a tendency to want to do it any time things get tight. Also, most payday loan services purposely create a cycle of debt by getting customers to "reloan" or rollover their initial debt on the day they pay. While paying $15 on a $100 loan isn't bad, it certainly can be if you keep paying that $15 every week or two weeks. Moreover, continually borrowing money to scrape by doesn't solve the underlying problem, which (most of the time) involves not making enough money to survive.

In any case, I'd been thinking about taking photos of these two places loan places for a while. The green building is a former garage turned payday loan service in Roanoke. The other is Danny's Title Loan in Fairlawn. I suppose the pink deck is meant to draw people in, and it worked with me, though I didn't attempt to get a loan on my car title (it's an 89 Plymouth that I paid $300 for, so I doubt I could borrow money on it). I'd like to continue this project, but while photographing yesterday I had one of my first photography related disagreements/altercations that made me question whether I should proceed. It's an interesting story, but I'm not going to relate it here. It was very frustrating, but it kind of made me feel like I'd broke into the big league of wierdo photographers. It also drove home the point that if I'm going to photograph anything other than the Blue-Ridge Parkway or my immediate family, I need to think of better lies to explain myself.


Karen said...

Photographs of cash advance stores are an interesting play on the general theme of the poverty that exists in SW Virginia. I'd be interested in seeing more.

I'm finding myself a bit sad that I never took a creative writing course. I have a plot forming in the recesses of my mind for a silly little narrative about "the big league of weirdo photographers" and lies they might tell. Alas, my words rarely form coherent stories, so the plot will probably never be let out of my mind to play.

mark burnette said...

you should go with it, just write and see what comes out. creative writing courses are overrated.

Billy Pilgrim said...

Vonegut said that you should never put yourself in competition with the world's greates writers. Just put pen to paper and let it out. Worry later if it's good.

I think this is a great project. Nice images. These places used to be people's only option to fix the money-shakes. Those days are gone and the rust testifies: "No money for you." And so it goes.