Few things are as enjoyable as loading some film into a camera and exploring a small, unfamiliar town. It’s the basis for how I came upon the name ‘Village Voyager’, after all. The, often, slow and methodical approach to composition and the new elements of a village not-yet-explored is an almost meditative process. It’s definitely fulfilling.
Last summer, film photography and exploration was exactly what I was embarking upon one morning in Michigan’s upper peninsula. Subdued light was streaming through the bedroom where we were staying and it was so lovely that I couldn’t stay in bed, even though my eyes said that sleep was what I needed.
There wouldn’t be a lot of time for me to photograph based on the schedule of the day, but I don’t think there would ever, or will ever, be enough time to photograph.
Days prior, we’d traveled through a small town called Lake Linden. It was picturesque, small and quaint and had all the characteristics of a Normal Rockwell painting.
So it would be that on a free morning I would travel to Lake Linden to “see what I could see,” as I like to say.
As soon as I started driving through Lake Linden, there were construction workers and orange road barrels everywhere. They were repaving the main street. The unsightly visual elements and my sleepy brain weren’t ideal for making pictures, but this can often be the case. One of the great hurdles of photography is overcoming these challenges to make pictures. For me, at least, if I had to wait for perfect conditions to take pictures, I’d hardly photograph at all.
So, despite the conditions at hand, I decided to park and travel Lake Linden by foot, since this is the best way to explore a place. An open parking space between a couple of pickup trucks presented itself so I situated my vehicle there, felt the warmth of low, summer sun though my driver’s side window, and turned the car off. With camera and light meter in hand, I exited my car.
Photography isn’t completely about visual elements, I feel. To me, it’s a multi-sensory event. A place can have a feel and you may feel a certain way also, and all these variables can, and should, play into how you make images. In fact, the feeling you have is maybe the most important factor in making images.
So, as soon as I exited my vehicle, I could hear the clanging of silverware and the clattering of dishes. I parked across the street from a restaurant. The distinct smell of bacon wafted through the air and besides the restaurant, along with the road repaving, this place was quiet and peaceful.
It’s easy to overthink a photograph so I made every effort to not do that. I walked to a street corner and saw what I felt was a pleasing scene. It included the town, the restaurant, the main street and some buildings in the distance. Sometimes, it’s nice to make a simple photograph without putting too much thought into it, just intuition.
Once that photograph was made, I turned around and saw some writing on a building. As often is the case, I thought, only for a brief moment, about whether or not I should make an image of the building. And, as often is the case, I made the image since I never like to regret not taking a picture, even though this does happen from time to time.
After that, I walked a short distance and was content with the images I made. My time in Lake Linden was up and even though it wasn’t a lot of time, it was time.
Time spent photographing, or creating anything at all, is time well spent. If you don’t have much time to do it, try to be appreciative of the time you do have and take full advantage of it. It’s always worth it.