Go Local

March 23, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

There is beauty everywhere in nature. It doesn't matter where you live.  Morning Stillness White Mountains New HampshireTHE SHAPE OF THINGSThough "leaf peepers" crowd the area in early October, the landscape is quiet, peaceful and mostly deserted in the hour before sunrise.

White Mountains, New Hampshire

Admittedly, some places tug at the heart a little harder than others. I was smitten with New Hampshire's White Mountains the first time I laid eyes on them. Born and raised in the Midwest, I was a flatlander. The heartland has plenty of its own charms, but mountains aren't among them. A stint on the West Coast didn't do much to change my flatlander designation.

In the mountains of New England I felt like a kid in a candy store. The Granite State's north country is lovely all year, but when that heavily-forested landscape bursts into color in autumn, it is so spectacularly beautiful it's hard to find the words to describe it. Magical.

(Do not even think about throwing shade at the mountains of the East. They're not as lofty as their Western cousins, but there's more than one way to define enchanting.)

When I relocated to New England, I got serious about photography. Initially, it was the White Mountains or bust; I focused nearly all of my attention there.

There was a flaw with that mindset, though. I didn't live close enough to the mountains that I could routinely drop in. Limiting myself to the north country meant I wouldn't be shooting regularly. 

The answer was to work locally.

As luck would have it, New England is overflowing with character. You don't have to go far to find interesting subject matter. (Really I didn't have to go more than a few steps; my own yard was filled with gardens.) I also expanded beyond landscapes in the strict definition of the term, adding architecture and cityscapes to the mix. 

You might laugh when you find out what kinds of things I gave myself permission to shoot when I "went local." Iconic lighthouses. A historic city with a rich maritime tradition. The coast. Seems like obvious subject matter, doesn't it? An embarrassment of riches, right under my nose. 

Redefining how I would approach photography was a tipping point. Fortunately I figured this out early on.

Approaching StormAPPROACHING STORMThe North Church's steeple is visible beyond the commercial fishing pier in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

While the White Mountains remained my favorite place to work, expanding to nearby locations meant I was shooting regularly and thinking about photography all the time. I started to spend early mornings at the Atlantic Ocean whenever my schedule permitted it. I began to look at Portsmouth differently. At first, it was where I was based for my day job. Period. Quaint, lots of history, and I appreciated it - but I certainly wasn't shooting there. It morphed into a fantastic place to prowl around with the camera. And so on.

Going local is a game changer. Try it if you're not already doing so. You will see things with fresh eyes. Your camera won't gather dust. You'll become a better photographer.

There is no denying the fact that some areas enjoy more abundant potential subject matter than others. Finding locations close to home means something entirely different in Eastern Idaho than it did in New Hampshire's Seacoast, I can assure you. I may live in the shadow of two national parks, but it's a 90-mile drive to each one of them; I'm not popping in every day. I have to find alternative options here just as I did back East, and sometimes it takes effort. In my humble opinion, the high desert is often lacking when it comes to a certain je ne sais quoi. 

Doesn't matter. There is always something interesting to photograph if we keep our eyes - and our minds - open. 

About Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Founded in 1623, Portsmouth is celebrating its 400th birthday this year.

New Hampshire's only seaport, Portsmouth's Piscataqua River waterfront has always been busy, with shipbuilding roots that go back to the Colonial Era. The maritime tradition continued with the establishment of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in 1800. Still in service, it's the Navy's oldest continuously operating yard and specializes in the overhaul, repair and modernization of Los Angeles- and Virginia-class submarines.

Portsmouth Harbor handles 3.5 million tons of shipping annually; it's also home to several large commercial fishing operations as well as tourist boating businesses.

As for the historic downtown, it boasts a number of noteworthy old structures - in spite of the fact that Portsmouth suffered three major fires in the early 1800s. The landmark North Church is easily the most recognizable, but you can find examples of First Period, Georgian and Federal homes, including: Jackson House (American Colonial, 1664 - National Historic Landmark), the oldest surviving wood frame house in New Hampshire, and the Gov. John Langdon residence (Georgian, 1784 - National Historic Landmark) which was visited on multiple occasions by George Washington during his 1789 visit to Portsmouth. 

The history of Portsmouth's harbor defense is well preserved and accessible to the public, including Fort Constitution and Fort Dearborn (now Odiorne Point State Park).

Especially during the summer months, the city has plenty of Quadricentennial celebratory events planned. Follow the link to find out more: PNH400

WaterfrontWORKING WATERFRONTPortsmouth, New Hampshire


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