Camera Case – Non Essential Equipment Evaluation

A recent surgery required that I not lift anything over 10 lbs for 2-3 months. During the first week of my recovery that was fine; I hadn’t been inspired to stray too far from my bed, much less bring a camera with me. But then my real life started seeping back in… a walk to the back deck required a telephoto lens to help identify a bird, my little container garden was offering up the lush orbs of my better looking than tasting purple cherry tomatoes, the deck spider’s web was bedazzled in mist and security light …. I relocated my camera bag.

IMG_7515 Haverhill Spider webmaking to work up appetite

It is a short distance to carry my camera bag from the top floor to the back deck, but per doctor’s orders, I reviewed the contents for possible editing: extra cameras out, extra lenses out,  tripod gone, extra batteries out… no wait I need those, and so first one then another slid into my pants pockets (pocket stuffers can’t count as lifting, can they?)  The concern was ignored that fatigue might see me tossing the pants and batteries alike into the hamper upon my return to rest.

IMG_6770 HAverhill purple tomatoes

From there I road shotgun with my husband just glad to see something visible beyond our plot of land. He carried the bag to the car and waited within for my mini excursions to tire me out. I wiggled out of the car in my new more cautious gait with a single camera and my battery. Foolishly I’d culled even my phone and edged into the woods on a broad short trail. Prizes winners? Probably not, but at least I’d have something to enter into the Middleton Stream Team competition.

IMG_8297 middleton Stream Team contest

Days in bed meant I missed the cut-off for the Topsfield Fair Farm Photo contest, but that would not prevent me from checking out the beautiful backdrop of early autumn at Smolak Farm with an eye to next year, plus I still had a couple of days to switch out my Fine Arts photography entries if I captured something I really loved. Then like a donkey chasing after a carrot on a stick, I edged from one heavily laden antique apple tree to another absolutely perfect display of apples that was just out of range of my one lens.

IMG_8458 No Andover Smolak apples contest

Between the Middleton wetlands and the farm fruitlands, I probably walked a mile over uneven terrain, up and down modest inclines, knowing full well the next day would, by necessity, be a day of rest…. but I’d be back out the day after that with one camera, one all purpose lens and as many batteries and memory sticks as I can jam in my pocket. Can’t wait until the sun shines again because adding a flash just isn’t in the cards right now.

IMG_8442 No Andover Smolak sunflower flower better

(c)Alison Colby-Campbell




And that has made all the difference….

brownie-bullet-camera - Copy (2) - Copy - Copy - Copy
My first camera looked like this. Photo from

My first camera was a Kodak Brownie that I received as a gift when I was probably 7-8 years old. My first photo (and there are very few left) was of our rescued cat, Snowy, a tough as nails white angora with gold eyes and a toy poodle for a best friend that had been given to my dad in lieu of payment for some legal work he did. I pretty much loved them all equally.

That camera gave a shy kid something to do that didn’t require a lot of talking and kept me out of the awkward and dreaded position in front of a camera. “Smile.”

Polaroid swinger camera
My camp camera looked like this. Photo from:  https:///pin/96545985735206569/

I’ve been taking pictures since then except the one week in fifth grade when our class went to Camp Union and my mother graciously sent me off with her Polaroid Swinger instant camera, a roll of film but no instructions. I never figured out how to load the film and ruined the film in the process. I’m sure some fantastic sights were seen at Camp Union but without any photos, all I can remember about the week was that the thick and sweet Koolaid-style drink  (or was it Zarex) they exclusively offered at every meal made me throw up so I spent a lot of time dehydrated before I worked up the courage to ask for water.

IMG_6222 Camera collection Alison
Part of my collection. Anyone remember film or single use flashbulbs.

Lessons learned. Never drink Koolaid, and always know your equipment and have back up. I carry at least one and usually two cameras with me at all times, even when the cameras were those new fangled disposables (some worked underwater). Don’t laugh at disposables – I made my first sale (well barter really) with one of those. My photo was a swan for a young girl obsessed with the birds and an obliging and crazily talented mom from whom I received a sunflower watercolor study. Thinking I got the better end of that deal, the painting still hangs in my home.

IMG_6220 Camera collection Alison
My collection samples

As an adult, I talk a lot more, and really love writing. And my husband, Jonathan W. Campbell, and I share many hours competing like mad to get the best shot on our photo excursions. Some years he’s the top prize winner, other years I am. But always he is my go to person for advice on editing and printing. The skill I share in return is my ability to recognize a great photo opp out of the corner of my eye travelling 70 miles an hour down a highway. He’s not always willing to stop on a dime, but more often than not, we can loop around in some semi safe manner and have at it.

IMG_0962 Camera collection Alison
Picked up this camera as a bonus item when purchasing furniture from a consignment shop. Bought it because I had never seen anything like it before. Sadly, every time I open it up I forget how to close it again so that’s a time waster and frustration, but it’s so cool looking with snowflake like occlusions in the lens, I’m glad it’s mine.

When the viewer becomes the viewed….Cameras themselves are fascinating to me, and without meaning to, I’ve let them edge me closer to hoarding status. I’ve picked up several at yard sales, flea markets and consignment stores, usually looking for a price tag of $5 or so. Their design says a lot about the era in which they were created, even if I’m not well trained enough to identify the design style.

IMG_6219 Camera collection Alison
This part of my collection looks Deco-ish, or Nouveau

I owe a lot to my camera – it helps me explain how beautiful this world is without, for the most part, hunting for the thousand words on my keyboard.

IMG_4631 Alison self portrait camera lens
Self portrait

(c)Alison Colby-Campbell


Farm Focus – Tattersall Farm, Haverhill MA

Tattersall Farm in my city of Haverhill, MA at  542 North Broadway needs to occupy a lot more of my time. I photographed there basically as a fly by, stopping to preserve my mood after a kid missed the bus to the high school or on my way to hike trails elsewhere, or to check out the community gardens.

This photo retrospective reminds me there’s a lot to see in any season. Disclaimer – My initial thought “well, maybe not spring”, shifted when I wrote a recent article for Haverhill Life Magazine on the trails here. I was delighted by the surprise of single daffodils peeking out above the grass and dandelions to mark the trail across the field.

With hiking trails, community gardens, wild flower areas, arguably the oldest living oak on city property, heritage apple trees, a daffodil lined path, and bobolinks, tree swallows, turkeys and hawks arriving for their photo ops along with a few deer, even the barren trees offer a beauty worth sharing.

If you are interested in purchasing prints of these images contact me through this blog. Prices range for matted prints:  Up to 90 sq inches $50, Up to 150 sq inches $80. For larger sizes or to license photographs for digital or commercial usage, please call for a quote.

(c) Alison Colby-Campbell Text & Photographs

IMG_6142 HAverhill Tattersall Apple TreeIMG_6138 Haverhill Tattersall Farm Winter SiloIMG_6132 Haverhill Tattersall Farm snow tractorDSC_0962 Haverhill tattersall Farm SunflowerIMG_2630 Haverhill Tattersall Summer 2016IMG_2620 Haverhill Tattersall Summer 2016IMG_2613 Haverhill Tattersall Summer 2016IMG_2591 Haverhill Tattersall Summer 2016IMG_2582 Haverhill Tattersall Summer 2016 community GardenIMG_2568 Haverhill Tattersall Summer 2016 Black eyed susansIMG_5218 Haverhill Tattersall edited and straightenedIMG_5145 Haverhill Tattersall editedDSC_0478 Haverhill Tattersall Farm May 2015DSC_0475 Haverhill Tattersall Farm May 2015DSC_0474 HAverhill TattersallDSC_0456 Haverhill Tattersall Farm May 2015DSC_0352 Haverhill TattersallDSC_0320 Haverhill Tattersall Farm May 2015IMG_0774 Haverhill Big Oak at tattersall Farm color intensifiedIMG_5196IMG_5157 Haverhill Tattersall edited






BLOG – Dog Face of the Day

IMG_1377 Haverhill GHCC Kids Fest
Melodramatic Dog – Mastiff great Dane Lap Dog – didn’t want his photo taken


IMG_7147 Dog face of the day chicken cropped
Chicken face of the day?

These are from my random series called Dog Face of the Day. I do not have a dog companion and so find myself dawn to the wonderful canines I meet in my travels. These are not always Fine Pet Portraits, in fact I shoot some while opening my car window and grabbing a shot as my husband drives by, but they are always wonderful exchanges between human and the creatures that are most willing to teach us about love, loyalty and forgiveness. Many if not most of these dogs are rescues. Love a dog, be loved forever. (Click to see full size individual photos.)

Dogs bring joy (and a lot of work and eaten shoes and some disgusting things) but definitely joy, no ifs, ands, or butts…Okay just a few butts…

(c) Alison Colby-Campbell

The Faces of Haverhill

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard.” Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz

While I can’t condone, never moving beyond your backyard, I can recognize the value therein. Thank you Haverhill, Massachusetts, your fabulous geographic diversity has been my photography muse for five years, now, the source for my The Heartbeat of Haverhill Blog and The Heartbeat of Haverhill Facebook Page, and a resource to draw from for myriad marketing opportunities, contest entries, and calendar pages.


I typically spend less time photographing the urban areas of Haverhill because the urban areas within the City  represent such a small percentage of it’s total land that includes vast expanses of suburban, rural, agricultural, park, waterfront and open spaces, but as the City brings new vitality downtown, this area becomes more and more of a focal point.


In my career as a freelance marketer, we just put to print a 12-page pitchbook for Haverhill’s Planning and Economic Development department. The project was co-funded by the City and the Greater Haverhill Foundation. I was contracted to lead the project, of course. because of my marketing acumen but that was enhanced because of my photographic library. Ultimately over 20 of my photos (city, land, river, and business scapes, even my portrait of Mayor James Fiorentini were placed in the book. Billboards and other marketing materials to come! It’s too soon yet but I will provide a link to the digital version as soon as I get the “okay” after the book is presented to City Council.


A new gorgeous waterfront apartment building just contacted me for another photo or two and my random “just walking through the City” photo of perhaps the prettiest commercial street in downtown Haverhill was selected for the cover of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce Directory.


Haverhill has been very good to me, and I like to return the favor by promoting just what an amazing 35+ square mile city Haverhill is. I mean where else do you have a winery (won a regional contest with a photo from there, a castle (took first place in a regional photo contest with a photo there), a residents’ beach, a river (photo of the urban end of the river took first), and a ski/board family oriented resort. I read a statistic long enough ago that I can’t remember where that said Haverhill had more photographers per capita than most Massachusetts communities. Once I started cataloguing the City’s unique features, it was easy to understand why.


(c)Alison Colby-Campbell





Photo Year in Review

Wrapping up 2016, Perhaps my most exciting photo adventure this year was being sponsored by Rep Diana DiZoglio for a Massachusetts State House Exhibit in partnership with my husband who is also a photographer. We had a one week show featuring the Merrimack Valley and beyond, towns very near and dear to our hearts. And we are in discussions to restage that show elsewhere! You can see more of Jon’s work at Jonathan W Campbell Photography

MA State House exhibit with Jonathan Campbell
Middleton Stream Team Honorable Mention

I was also thrilled to become part of history. Are you kidding me!!!  My 2016 The Heartbeat of Haverhill calendar was juried into a time capsule for a gorgeous new city building that is part of the downtown renaissance of Haverhill, MA. I expect to be in the crowd in 25 years when the capsule is re-opened.

The Heartbeat of Haverhill calendar is snuggled in a time capsule in this new building called Harbor Place in Haverhill MA.

But don’t stop there – other memorable photo moments included a blue ribbon for the Topsfield Fair Agricultural Photo Competition and two honorable mentions at the Middleton Stream Team contest.

Topsfield Fair Blue Ribbon of wine grape harvest

I had two cover photos for Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce publications, had two images picked up by a Boston architectural firm, incorporated photos into a new marketing piece for the City of Haverhill, and helped people re-entering the workforce by shooting their profile pictures.

I received no awards at the Mass Audubon competition or Essex National Heritage Competition (you can’t win them all), but I did kind of win for the fact that I got out and explored these wonderful places.

Middleton Stream Team Awards Ceremony
Middleton Stream Team Honorable Mention

Personally I love competitions, for as random and perplexing as some results may seem (I cannot tell you how many times I felt someone else was more deserving of my award), but if the judges provide commentary, it encourages me to up my game and look for something others might miss. Plus there are some good prizes that help with this expanding hobby as well as The Heartbeat of Haverhill calendar. Added bonus –  there are always new and inspiring people to meet – other photographers and people in the street and on the trails.

Snakes fighting over toad was gruesome and so not likely to win a beauty award but it was such a random shot to happen upon that I did enter it into the Mass Audubon competition to no avail. Still feeling bad for the toad.
Images from The Heartbeat of Haverhill 2017 calendar available for purchase at Positive Images Gallery in Haverhill.

So check out competitions if you love taking photos. You may as well start sharing your work within a larger and mostly supportive circle. I know I’d like to see what you’re shooting! And in the meantime – may you all experience peace along with a sense of beauty, wonder, and joy to inspire you.


(c)Alison Colby-Campbell


Category – Farm People – Subject: Family and friends coming together to harvest wine grapes at Willow Spring Vineyards Haverhill, MA. I got to participate in the harvesting and got so carried away I left way too little time to take pictures so I was really happy this one was recognized for a ribbon.


The second photo shows me getting low to pose with my less than optimally positioned  blue ribbon at Topsfield Fair. my husband Jonathan Campbell took that photo.


(c)Alison Colby-Campbell