When I first started shooting over a decade ago I had no idea the profound impact photography would have on my life. An article written by one of my favorite motivators, Dewitt Jones, entitled Don’t Prove...Improve! encouraged me to look back at some of my older images.
Looking back on some of my early “keepers”, I am truly amazed by several things. First and foremost, while my technique and understanding of photography has certainly grown, my choice of subject matter has remained largely the same. Landscapes, both big and small, along with historical architecture, make up the bulk of my work. The next thing that jumped out at me is the sheer number of images I have made that would hardly be considered keepers. While many of these photos might be considered the ones that got away, I try to look at them as learning opportunities. Great photos are a wonderful thing and can speak volumes, but it is the near misses that offer valuable lessons. Trust me, I’ve had my share of valuable lessons.
From those early days I like to think I have come a long way, striving to improve along the journey. Dewitt’s editorial just re-energized my motivation for taking pictures. This motivation is not to be the best photographer, but simply a better one.
This image of The Patapsco Female Institute: "Protecting Our Past?" was made recently for submission to Howard County Conservancy’s Juried Art & Photography Show: The Art of Stewardship. The theme of the show this year is: Lands & Historic Buildings. I had many ideas in mind when I set out to make an image that suggested Stewardship. In the end this is the image I chose. I was moved to show the building in this light when I drove up to the site and it was closed to visitors. Surrounded by a barbed wire fence and padlocked gate, initially I was inclined to move on to find another subject. As I drove around to the other side, I was struck by the majestic presence of the building high atop a hill above Historic Ellicott City. I parked my car and walked up a little used path, which I only noticed because of a small set of crumbling stone steps along the road. While reading a historical marker sign, I noticed another gate at the top of the hill; it too was locked. This is the gate pictured here. The title asks the viewer to decide: are we truly protecting or merely imprisoning out past?