Its been almost 12 years since I came back east so perhaps a bit of reflection is called for. Before I returned east, I grew up in upstate New York, I lived for more than 15 years in Colorado and Oregon and loved every minute. My first books were done out west, I became an established professional while I lived out west, I explored all the nooks and crannies I could find and had wonderful and magical experiences regularly. A big part of my heart still lives in the Northwest and always will.
When I decided to move back east many of my peers and students either said or implied that it was nice to know me but my nature photography career was done. “There is no nature east of the Mississippi” is what I was told. What I heard was “there are no pro nature photographers east of the Mississippi.” This would be big news to John Netherton (now deceased), Joe McDonald, Adam Jones, Richard Brown, Tom Blagden among others. Yes, there are far fewer in the east than in the west but I saw that as an opportunity not as an impediment.
Well, in the last 12 years I have begun to explore New England and I couldn’t be happier. I am working on my 5th New England area book, there are more in my head waiting to come out and I haven’t even explored most of this very small but very photographically rich part of America. I have hardly looked around New Hampshire (especially the White Mts). and Connecticut. The Berkshires and beaches of Cape Cod I have just scratched around a bit. Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, the lake country of Maine, the coast of New Hampshire and the Isle of Shoals lurk heavily in my thoughts.
And do realize that I not talking just about nature photography- there is so much more to photograph here! Perhaps that is what defines New England for me- diversity. New England forced me to open my eyes and f-stops to all the other imaging possibilities that I don’t think I ever would have noticed if I stayed out west chasing landscapes and wild critters. Thank goodness!
Now don’t get all huffy and think I am disparaging where you live. Spend any time in any region of America with open eyes and f-stops and you will discover all kinds of riches to photograph. The catch is that too many photographers lust for what is over the far horizon and ignore what is close to home. If you restrict yourself to staying within 10 miles of your home you over 300 square miles to explore for photographs! If you make it 35 miles than you will have an area of more than 3800 square miles! You aren’t going to try to tell me that you can’t find all sorts of wonderful things to photograph in 3800 square miles are you?
So photograph your own love letter to where you live. Go to different spots, photograph different things, try different techniques but stay close to home. As your eyes open so will your heart and there is nothing better than that.