I’m back from my trip to Minnesota! I’ve actually been back for a couple of weeks but the older I get, the longer it takes me to recuperate. As promised in my post telling all of you I was headed in that direction, here are the highlights.
The graduation reception was an amazing event. My daughter and the whole family must have
spent forever getting ready for it. We
had over 60 people there and it never felt overly crowded. I was able to spend time with all my family
(Dad, Mom, step-mom, both sisters, step-brother, and a few nieces and nephews)
and generally have a fabulous time.
Mother’s day was equally wonderful with daughter, son-in-law,
and granddaughters. It was a much
quieter day and that was truly just fine with me!
I even made time to run around with my camera (did you ever
doubt it?). My daughter and I drove all
over the place looking for interesting places to photograph and we found two
very old places (I love falling-down stuff) and a surprise bonus. My son-in-law works in a building with a
predominantly glass brick exterior with interesting curves and I spent about
half an hour photographing that. I think
I got a few good shots from it.
The next day my granddaughter and I headed out as well. She and I returned to the old homestead farm
my daughter and I discovered the day before. The funniest part about it was that it was within a mile of her
house. I’ve driven past it a couple of
dozen times and didn’t notice it until this trip.
Now that I’ve bored you half to death with my family trip,
here’s the photo tip for this week.
A tiny bit of background is important here. The house in the city had a For Sale sign out
in front and it was reasonable that I might be there taking photographs as a
potential buyer. The homestead (small
farm that had sold off most of the land for area developments) had signs posted
that said it was under video surveillance. My daughter said she had heard that the residents had both passed away
and the house was vacant.
The first we discovered, other than my son-in-law’s office
building, was the very old house with the For Sale sign out front. While I was there, a fellow from the tattoo
parlor down the street came out and asked if I was the niece of the woman who
had lived there. I told him I wasn’t,
that I was a photographer and found the house amazingly interesting. I didn’t say I found it interesting because
the front porch was falling down or because the entire house was in sad
disrepair. I said it had great
architectural interest. He told me about
the woman who lived there—how her family had owned the house since it was built
back in the late 1800s and that he would miss the owner of the house.
The second place, the homestead, was truly falling
down. My daughter and I totally ignored
the signs (I’m not encouraging anyone else to do this—it could get you in
trouble—but I couldn’t resist) and I started taking photos like crazy. It was a fabulous find for someone who loves
falling down structures. Unfortunately,
it started to rain and we were forced to leave before I had all the pictures I
The following day, my granddaughter and I went back to see
what other shots I could get and there were people there. One of them came down and asked if I was the
niece of the former owners (interesting that in both cases it was a niece they
asked about). I told him I was a
photographer and had been drawn to the fabulous structures and their
photographic potential. Did he mind if I
took photos there? It turned out he was
just someone who had come to get the 30-foot boat he had stored there and
needed to remove before the place was sold. He wasn’t going to say I could or couldn’t take photos. Of course I continued to take them until he
said they were going to be taking the boat out and if we didn’t leave, we could
be trapped in the drive for several hours while they got it all ready to go. We left even though there were many photos
yet to be taken. Sometimes you just have
to get what you can get and be happy with that.
At the junk yard, the experience was a bit different. I had just gotten started taking photos when
someone came out and asked what I was doing. I explained I was a photographer and I was drawn to fabulous, rusty, old
items and they had them in abundance. He
seemed to be concerned that I was taking photos for a lawyer or insurance
company or something, in addition to mentioning that it wasn’t a safe place for
me to be. He insisted I leave
immediately and I told him that of course I would.
In each of the above cases I was friendly, non-threatening,
and cooperative. The most important
thing, though, was that I acted as though I should be there—that a photographer
gets to wander about places that the “normal public” doesn’t have access
While you may never choose to become a professional photographer, there are a couple of things to be learned here:
- If there is something you want to photograph or use as a background and it appears to be on private property, use common sense when deciding whether or not to potentially invade someone’s privacy. (I knew the homestead’s owners had passed away and the old house was for sale).
- If someone asks what you’re doing be friendly and explain what a beautiful (fascinating, interesting, delightful—whatever) location it is and that you wanted to photograph it.
- If asked (or told) to leave, no matter how cranky the request may be, continue to smile and cooperate as quickly as you can.
- If the person is VERY cranky, offer to delete any photos you may already have taken of the property and offer to show them the digital screen as you delete them so they can see that you go back to the location you were in before this one.
- If you want to take a photo of somewhere that someone is already in evidence, ask! If approached properly, people are often very pleased to have photos taken of their property.
- When given permission to take your photos, be sure to thank them for allowing you to intrude.
- If the place you want to photograph is obviously somewhere it would be rude to intrude upon, don’t even think about it (I’m reminded of a scene in the movie, Witness, where an Amish woman said tourists would sometimes drive right up to the house. “They seem to think we’re quaint. It’s very rude.” Yes, it’s very rude to do something like that. If you’re on public property, taking a photo of Amish quilts hanging on a clothes line that's one thing—going onto their private property to do the same thing is something else entirely.
- Use common sense, be considerate, ask permission when
possible, and be understanding if some people find your request out of line.
I wish you as much success as I’ve had getting permission to photograph as many things as I have. It can be great fun!