For some reason, I tend to gravitate to photographing things that are broken. I’m not sure why I’m so fascinated by the broken down dilapidated buildings with centuries of peeling paint or the old rundown cars or buses. Yet oddly enough, I not only enjoy broken objects but I adore them.

From the old cars of Havana, to the crumbling buildings of Guatemala and Bolivia, broken things to me are a treasure and reminder of our past. I am a huge proponent of recycling and I love it when people use their resourcefulness and creativity to make, fix and beautify things out of another man’s trash.

In Cuba, mostly due to the decades long US embargo, Cubans have become experts at repairing their old cars using the most extraordinary things as spare parts.

Street Photography Havana

Vintage American cars in Havana

Old cars in Havana

Given the age of the cars, many break down and have to be refurbished with new parts.

Havana Cuba cars

In many parts of the developing world where priority is not aimed at restoration, buildings stand proudly with their own centuries long history of peeling paint and crumbling walls.

Xela, Guatemala



Plaza Murillo La Paz Bolivi

Street Photography HavanaBuilding renovation in Old Havana Cuba

Building renovation in Old Havana Cuba

Trinidad Cuba

Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who finds beauty in things that are broken. A brokenness that makes me think and wonder why.





Indian girls inside a Delhi slum

Smiling and hopeful Indian girls within a Delhi slum are sadly thin.

The children of Indira Kalyan Camp

Freedom Tower NYC

1 World Trade Center Tower or “The Freedom Tower” is the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere, in July 2013. She looms directly behind the 9/11 Memorial.

9/11 Memorial Museum NYC

And sadness in all the is broken and is lost.

the Statue of Liberty.

Ellis Island Immigration Musuem

Looking out through the Ellis Island Immigration Center at the Statue of Liberty and the symbol of freedom.

Ellis Island

I felt this photo was quite symbolic.

Ellis Island Immigration Musuem

Due to heightened terrorist threats, military planes monitored the waters near Manhattan, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken. To view more entires, please click here.



  1. I also find beauty in brokenness, at least in some kinds, such as antiquities, castles, etc. I think that “making do” is something many people really need to learn and that fixing a broken thing so that it works is a true skill and blessing.


  2. Old and unfixed things has a character of its own. If it lies amidst the well fixed ones, it stands out ….. I love taking photos with old buildings too especially those unrepaired ones…i

  3. I too am attracted to broken things and to old buildings. I think it’s because it reminds me of the impermanence of everything, but also because those old buildings were built with such charm and character and heart. You don’t see that much now.

    • Thanks Alison for the comment. Yes you don’t see a lot of old anymore. Just new and a lot of the new buildings here have no charm. 🙂

  4. The Japanese might say there’s a wabi sabi aspect to these photos. You capture the beauty that only old, broken things have.

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  10. johnberk

    I’m in love with old and broken. Just yesterday our neighbor was repairing his old car in the backyard, and I watched him for over twenty minutes. Old guy working on his old car, tied together by so many memories. All the stuff someone leaves behind. I also appreciate old houses with scarred faces, juxtaposing the modern age of perfect glass and metal shapes. Buildings crumble and fantastic ghost stories spread among people. Then it completely fades away, and nothing is left.

  11. I also like taking pictures of old buildings with peeling paint. When I visited Detroit last fall there were a lot of interesting and run-down buildings to photograph. My favorite is when plants start to take over and turn an old building green. The contrast is wonderful to look at.

    • Thanks for the comment. I bet there is a lot of interesting stuff in Detroit. I follow an Instagrammer who only shoots photos of Detroit and everything that has gone amiss there and his pictures are amazing.

  12. Amy

    Great take on, Nicole! Beautiful captures. I sincerely hope things will get better for the people in Cuba…

  13. Excellent post Nicole – excellent food for thought there towards the end. As for crumbling and broken subjects, I think all photographers are for some reason drawn to them. Go figure!!

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  15. You’re not alone! I’m in HCMC and everywhere I look I just want to record the age of this place. It’s a developing city so a lot of the crumbling beauties are being replaced and you have to look harder and harder for the treasures…but when you find them, they’re gems

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  17. The hidden beauty of the once vibrant colors of the buildings in your pictures seems to unfold stories from the past.

    My favorites are the Cuban Car, and # 11 picture – where the blue seems to brighten the sadness of the broken state of the building. Pic. # 8 takes my imagination to old time world….Maybe pretty dames dressed in period clothing, passed on non-verbal messages to their lovers standing below or women and children waved colorful cloths cheering a passing parade. I don’t want to start writing stories here.

    It’s interesting how broken things fascinate you and inspire you. There is so much brokenness in the world that if every human is considerate to the broken people around them, the word ‘humanity’ will hold its meaning in the dictionary.

    Thanks for sharing!!

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to really look at the photos and comment! I truly appreciate it. I’m really glad you enjoyed my selection of photos. They all have a deeper meaning and it looks like you found it! 🙂

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