Welcome to (The Occasional) Photo Tip of the Day! Please also visit my main site jeffwignall.com. Text and photographs Copyright 2016 Jeff Wignall.

“The best way out is always through.”

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tell the Story of Forgotten Spaces

It's easy to look for pictures in the places that are likely to produce "pretty" pictures--the beach, meadows, your garden, etc. Let's face it, beaches and meadows and gardens were made to be photographed and it's your duty as the committed photographer that you are to bring those beautiful scenes home.

But sometimes the most interesting photos are found in places where you would least expect them to be lurking--places like your backyard tool shed, your neighbor's garage or even in the attic of an old barn, which is where I found this shot. I discovered this fascinating little vignette at a Christmas tree farm where (snoop that I am) I had wandered off into an old barn where I'm sure I wasn't supposed to be. The roof of the barn (probably because this area had once been the farmer's workshop) was made of translucent panels (a more modern innovation, no doubt) that created a blissfully soft light over the entire room. Had the lighting not been so soft and enticing I might have just taken a wishful glance at the room and moved on, but with that nice lighting just melting across the room there was no way I wasn't going to photograph it.

The great thing about finding unexpected gems like this is that they're not only great photographic finds, but they tell a story of the places you discover. The farm where this photo was taken has been in the same family since 1812 and I can't help but look at this photo and wonder about all of the hands, across several generations, that have worked in this room and heaped up these old bits of tools and wood. Does the current generation peak into this forgotten corner as they pass by and think about their ancestors? I know that I would.

I grew up near an old mill pond and there was an abandoned milling house falling into ruin in the woods nearby. When we weren't fishing in the pond we used to climb through a window into the mill house and it was like being in an old tool museum--there were still hand tools on the benches, muskrat traps and ice tongs hanging from the walls, and windows full of decades-old spider webs. The mill was torn down before I took up photography but how I wish I could travel back in time to that place with a camera!

But lots of similar places still exist. And the places you explore don't have to be so profoundly historic or even that hidden, either. How many stories are waiting to be told on your dad's workbench, or in your mother's sewing corner? These places are so familiar to us that we tend to overlook them and yet, they are often the most meaningful places in our lives.

Next time you're looking for something interesting to photograph, climb up to the attic or go visit take a walk through an abandoned factory row. You just never know what treasures are sitting there waiting for you.

No comments: