Moving to New England has totally changed the kinds of things I shoot and, in some ways, how I shoot.
Alaska was about vistas, mountains, forests, wildlife and scenery. Here the concepts are the same but the names we give them have changed, they’re streets, high rises, alleys, people and cities.
There are small differences, even if the big differences are differences in name primarily. For instance, I can lock in a roll of film and shoot all night at ISO 400 with a 50mm f/1.2 under the electric glow of the fluorescent street lights, and the neon signs. That’d never fly in Alaska. But it opens up some unique opportunities for shooting in film, which is otherwise substantially less versatile.
The city has its own groove and its own message. In some ways I thought I’d be less equipped to handle it. I’m not used to crowds of people, and maybe I’m not as quick to get my camera out of safe storage for fear of drawing attention to myself. On the other hand, because the city is so much removed from what I’ve been shooting for the past three years I feel a hyperawareness of the subject, as if everything, or most things, is new and fresh and rich. I feel it more so in Boston than I have in Lowell so far.
This, I think, has to do with my mindset and it’s dependent on place. In Lowell I’m supposed to be working. In Boston, I’m away from the possibility of working and free to use my time in free ways. In Lowell it’s about going to the gym and going home and writing my articles for the day so I can pay the rent and buy groceries. In Boston it’s about visiting friends, and it’s about shooting.
I still grab a camera almost every time I go out the door, but I would be joking if that meant I took a picture every time.
See, the thing is, that we aren’t hardwired to go around looking for beauty; that takes practice. Sometimes it takes being shaken out of our element to remember what it was like to look for it, and how it feels to find it and it takes an even bigger motion to be able to hold onto that feeling and take it home with you.