Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Story is in the Details

One of the temptations I fight against when I photograph literary sites is to try to get everything into one shot. So I will stand across the street and try to get the house and surrounding trees, like this photograph of The Wayside in Concord, Massachusetts.

Both the Alcott family (think Louisa May Alcott and her eccentric educational reformer father, Bronson) and Nathaniel Hawthorne lived in the house. The leaves were at peak and it is an okay picture – but it is just a house. It doesn’t tell the story. The top floor addition was put on by Nathaniel Hawthorne – he called it his “Sky Tower.” He built it as a quiet writing retreat and put in a writing desk where he could pen his stories while standing. So, this picture is better for telling that story:

However, the best part of this trip was that I had contacted the house beforehand and spoke with the ranger in charge, Bob Derry, who agreed to not only give me a personalized tour, but allowed me to take photographs on the inside. So, I was able to get the picture I ended up including in the book:

Although this is not my favorite photograph, I’m happy with the sense of writer and place it gives. I think it tells the story of writer and place in a way that the first one does not. It gives a sense of intimacy.
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