Jamie Kripke's images may seem like a throwback to a time when wood-paneled walls and pea-green carpets were all the rage. But these earnest, modern-day snapshots actually offer a rare peek into a world that is otherwise shrouded in secrecy.
Freemasonry is the world's oldest and largest fraternal organization. While the group has roots in medieval Europe, it has a long history in America, too. The fraternity, generally speaking, is built around bettering men and women. Members gather in Masonic Temples (lodges and meeting halls) all over the world. But what goes on there isn't usually privy to outsiders.
The first time Kripke entered a Masonic Temple he was participating in a photography workshop. When the Colorado native decided to continue the project, and photograph different meeting places on his own, he found it surprisingly easy to gain access.
During these shoots, it was often just Kripke wandering around the empty buildings with his camera. When he did come across a Mason, he found him to be warm, welcoming, and happy to chat about the organization and its traditions.
There was a time when young men eagerly tried to join this illustrious group. But today, the fraternity struggles to attract new members. The historic secrecy may be part of the problem.
"The longer they maintain this kind of secret veil, the harder it is for people to discover what they do,” Kripke said in an interview. Allowing photographers into the lodges is at least a step in the right direction.
**To see more of Jamie Kripke's work, check out his website**