When David Bryan Lile walks down a street, his eyes dart back and forth — his finger is always ready to capture an image.
A photographer of architecture and buildings, Lile sees beauty in bricks, windows, roof lines, downspouts, fire escapes and doorways.
He gets excited about taking pictures of obscure abandoned houses and buildings off the beaten track, as well as big and busy structures.
After he was diagnosed with leukemia 3½ years ago, his desire to express himself through his photography grew.
He uses computer techniques to intensify colors that can turn a picture of a brick wall into something that looks like a colorful painting.
His diagnosis came after he and his wife, Kathy, were at a wedding before Christmas 2009. They had their picture taken in a wedding photo booth.
His wife looked at the picture and said she thought her husband looked anemic. The next day, two family friends in the medical profession visited the Liles at their Cuyahoga Falls home and they both agreed that David did not look well.
At their encouragement, he got blood work done and was called at home two days before Christmas Eve to immediately go to Akron City Hospital because his white blood count was off the charts.
At the hospital, he was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) with the Philadelphia chromosome by Dr. Douglas Trochelman.
Since then he has been treated by taking two pills of the drug Sprycel every day, a medicine that sells for nearly $9,000 a month retail.
He said he is in complete remission.
He works full time in information technology at the Pastoral Counseling Service of Summit County. He also continues to build his photo business known as David B Design.
“What CML has taught me is that I must live life with a renewed passion and intensity, each and every day,” Lile said. “That in turn, has amped up my desire to capture every city that I have an opportunity to visit; to seek out the normal mundane areas of a city and bring them to a new level of life, with color and vibrancy.”
Lile, who is also an avid bicyclist who rode his bike nearly 2,000 miles last summer, has even used one of his art photos of brick work from the old B.F. Goodrich Co. in downtown Akron on a cycling shirt he designed through his clothing company called HR Max Design.
On a recent spring afternoon, the 60-year-old Lile explored a neighborhood in East Akron, not far from the Goodyear complex, taking pictures of some buildings with his Canon camera.
“I am captivated by each building,” he said. “The patina, the doors and windows, the height and expanse, the compactness of some buildings. I am always amazed by what items are in the windows of buildings. It is like looking into the soul of a living, breathing object.”
Lile worked for about 10 years at the Akron Beacon Journal in the 1970s and 1980s and spent time working in the now demolished freight building for the Erie Railroad and Erie Lackawanna Railroad on South Broadway at Exchange Street. He took a series of photographs of the old train depot a year ago.
Often, on a walk through a neighborhood, he will record the image of a building only to find it has been torn down later.
He says he came up with a term — artistic archival documentation — to explain the images he has shot of buildings that later were torn down or altered.
“When I see something that I like, when I am on the road, I simply pull over, stop and shoot,” Lile said.
While exploring a building in East Akron, he was fascinated with a graffiti design of a face he spotted on one abandoned storefront and took several images of the face.
Jessie Raynor, retired director of the Akron Area Arts Alliance, said she loves Lile’s work and there is nothing subtle about him.
“Not his ear-to-ear smile, not his buoyant personality, not his in-your-face art,” she said. “His subject matter can be subtle though. Actually it’s often what you and I would pass by every day and not notice — or try not to notice.”
Raynor said by photographing, cropping and digitally enhancing “with surreal electric colors, this man can make you visually savor gas meters, rusted pipes and boarded up storefronts.”
“His use of space age colors emphasizes texture, shape and line bringing the forgotten to the forefront,” she said. “His work is as uplifting as he is.”
Brenda Cummins, director of community engagement for the Summa Foundation, got to know Lile through Summa’s Healingarts Program.
“He is full of magnetism and charm,” she said.
She was involved in purchasing a dozen of his pictures that are on display at the Summa Center for Health Equity on South Hawkins Avenue in Akron.
“Not only was he a patient who had traveled this journey with cancer but also was an artist,” she said of Lile.
“I am fascinated with his photography. He takes what would normally be something that might be considered mundane and he transforms it.”
Lile’s advice to amateur photographers is to shoot, shoot and shoot some more.
“Do not hesitate,” he said. “Today is today.”
He encourages photographers to take time with each shot and “shoot with intention.”
Always be aware of light, he said, and how it affects the subject.
“Always be on the lookout for moments of life, with people, animals, nature and the world around you,” he said.
Through his photography, he said, he hopes to “capture the city’s unnoticed personality, architecture and elements in ways that are often lost and overlooked in the repetition of everyday living.”
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or email@example.com.