Flickering Treasures: Amy Davis

Congratulations to Amy Davis on the success of her new coffee table book: Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters. In her book, Amy juxtaposes vintage, black and white images from Baltimore’s heyday with modern images, many shot with Lensbaby, in a curious look at the evolution of Baltimore’s movie theatres. Continue reading to learn more about the project and to see a sample of images from the book.

Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters, published this fall by Johns Hopkins University Press, explores the themes of change, loss and memory. A century of movie-going is celebrated in a retrospective of 72 movie theaters from one American city – Baltimore. Amy Davis, a staff photographer at The Baltimore Sun, spent most of her spare time for nine years on this labor of love, which evolved into a 302-page coffee table photo book. Vintage B & W photographs of theaters in their heyday are followed by Davis’ evocative color photography. Reminiscences from moviegoers bring each theater to life.

streets of Baltimore hooded man with white beard in front of Metropolitan church Lensbaby flickering treasures amy davis

Nemo, 4815 Eastern Avenue 2012 — Ray Gabriszeski walks past the former Nemo, a small movie house in the Greektown neighborhood that dates back to 1925. It is now a church. Taken with Lensbaby Control Freak and Nikon D700 by Amy Davis.

Photographer Amy Davis explains her choice to use Lensbaby lenses:
When I embarked on the nine-year odyssey that became Flickering Treasures, I knew I wanted to create images that would enhance the book’s themes of memory, change, and loss. I considered using Holga or Diana film cameras to create soft focus images but ruled them out because I needed the economy and expediency of shooting digital. Lensbaby was the perfect creative solution. In the book’s preface, I express the hope that “the time traveler roaming through these pages is invited to imagine the past within the present.”

Lensbaby lenses were used for almost half of the color photography. I began with the Control Freak lens, the predecessor to the Composer Pro II with Sweet 50 Optic, which I later upgraded to the versatile Composer Pro with Double Glass Optic. For a few of the images, the Edge 80 offered another way to create a band of focus across the frame. Lensbaby was also a great way for me to challenge myself because it offered a more impressionistic approach than the traditional photojournalism I produce at The Baltimore Sun. Everyone has cherished, indelible memories of film-going experiences. I like to think that the photographs in Flickering Treasures stir as much emotion in the reader as the poignant experiences described by filmgoers.


Hustler burlesque building brick and stone Baltimore street photography flickering treasures amy davis

405 East Baltimore Street, 2014 — The Edge 80 enabled me to focus on the marvelous architectural details of the 1906 Gayety, famous for its burlesque shows. Taken with Lensbaby Edge 80 and Nikon D700 by Amy Davis.

E-Z Laundromat blue concrete building with man in red shirt walking streets of baltimore flickering treasures amy davis

910 West North Avenue, 2013 — The entrance to the former Linden Theater, in the neighborhood of Reservoir Hill, is unrecognizable today. Taken with Lensbaby Composer Pro with Double Glass Optic and Nikon D700 by Amy Davis.

Holy Temple holiness church of deliverance Baltimore birds and white brick building flickering treasures amy davis

2016 West Pratt Street, 2012 — The Horn, in southwest Baltimore, is one of many former theaters that is now home to a church. Taken with Lensbaby Control Freak and Nikon D700 by Amy Davis.

Man with beanie black hat and tattoo on neck looks across a shadowy street in Baltimore flickering treasures amy davis

1108 East Preston Street, 2012 — The New Preston, now a church with a white facade, was called the Flaming Arrow when it opened as a silent movie theater in 1913. Taken with Lensbaby Control Freak and Nikon D700 by Amy Davis.

movie theatre seats abandoned theater leaves flickering treasures amy davis

508 N. Howard Street, 2013 — The decaying Mayfair Theater is a prime example of what historic preservationists call demolition by neglect. Taken with Lensbaby Composer Pro with Double Glass Optic and Nikon D700 by Amy Davis.

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