History Everywhere!

This saturday, May 12th, we are headed to Fort Warren for an exciting one day workshop.  The abandoned fort is located on George’s Island at the entrance to Boston Harbor and is the centerpiece of the Boston Harbor National Park Recreational Area.    Construction began on the fort in 1833 and was concluded during the Civil War: 30 years later!   Fort Warren was designed to guard Boston Harbor from hostile forces but, saw use mostly during the Civil War as a prison for confederate soldiers.  The fort was de-commissioned shortly after WWII but, today is a fantastic destination for tourists and photographers alike.  I can’t wait to lead a  group of adventurous photographers around this jewel of the Boston Harbor islands.

The greatest tool that a photographer can bring with them to the fort is their imagination.  As you walk the grounds and roam the old decaying buildings, stop and imagine the many souls that lived there, served there, were imprisoned there, and died there.  The granite used to build the fort came from the nearby Quincy quarries and others on Cape Ann.  As you observe the massive slabs of granite used in construction, imagine the many workers who cut that granite and labored  to bring it to the island.  Imagine the immigrants, and the families, that forged a life working in the quarries. Imagine where they came from, what their dreams were, where they lived, and how they lived.  Theirs was the American Dream; no different than our dreams today.   In 1833 construction was done with man power, horse power, and sweat.  The granite was brought to the island via sailing vessel.  Look at the massive slabs and imagine the difficulty of loading and unloading a boat by hand, wagon, and horse.  The work was staggeringly hard.  Fort Warren took over 30 years to build – by HAND.  Yes, the most powerful tool a photographer can bring with them to places such as Fort Warren is their imagination.

One of the most invaluable characteristics of New England is it’s rich and storied history.   I love history in general but, I LOVE the history and cultures of New England.  Photography is my profession now but, my degree, from Northeastern University, is in History.   I am thrilled to combine my reverence of history with my love of photography.  All around us, everywhere, history lives and breathes.  Some of it is on a very large and dramatic scale;  some of it is much smaller and inconspicuous scale.  Nonetheless, all of it is essential.  It is our responsibility to respect each and every story before us.  Being informed not only makes us better photographers but, more importantly, better people.  I remind people often that in order to be better photographers we first must  make ourselves better conservationists, better environmentalists, and better naturalists.  The more we know about a subject the more likely we will be successful photographing it.  The more we care about a subject, the more likely we will be successful at preserving it for others to enjoy.  The two go hand in hand.

When you are in the field working it goes without saying that you must follow good technique as often as possible.  However, good technique is not limited to only your camera and gear.  To me, it is equally important to understand what you are photographing and appreciate its story.  Follow good technique with your knowledge and imagination as well.  Know your subject and FEEL it.  Open your mind and heart to the scene before you and photograph with emotion.  More than anything this will lead you to making images with greater impact.  More than anything this will resonate with you far beyond a dramatic image.  The story of Fort Warren is OUR story and we should do all we can to feel it and share it.

Photograph What You Feel

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