Yesterday I left the house far earlier than ever before to photograph at sunrise with some camera club folks on one of the beaches of Plum Island.
I like the ocean, but I’ll confess to being a landlubber (photographically at least). So I headed back up the island, over the bridge, through Newburyport, and down Route 1A (which Gillian called “the slow road to nowhere”) to Rowley. There I drove some backroads and had a decent time photographing, eventually making my way to the town’s common. I wandered around, photographing some rebuilt antique tractors, talking to some locals, and enjoying the beautiful weather.
“Are you from the paper?” I brought my camera down from my eye to see four or five people about my age (or slightly older) looking at me, all wearing “Rowley Agrictultural Commission” badges. This has happened to me before and probably isn’t an unfamiliar experience for anyone who uses two camera bodies and has a camera bag slung over his or her shoulder.
“No. I’m just out working on a project.” Stares. “I’m photographing in all 351 towns and cities of Massachusetts.” This usually gets intriguing smiles and conversation.
“A collector’s set, huh?” asked the main ag guy (who didn’t look like any farmer I’d ever seen in Iowa or elsewhere).
Hmm . . . “Not exactly. It’s more of an art project.”
“Merit badge, eh?” Whatever. “Anyway, welcome to Rowley.” Yeah, thanks.
So now I have an ethics problem to work through before showing pictures from Rowley. If I could only show my favorite photograph from Rowley — supposing it turns out well, a double-exposure that shows the tremendous pressures suburban farmers face, with a farmer’s “going out of business sign” and the subdivision across the street from it — do I help out the dismissive Rowley ag man? Or would I spite him and show an antique tractor, making him seem quaint and out-of-touch?
It’s a moot discussion. Of course, I would show whichever one I liked better.