Winter and Covid and Feeling Confined

I remember watching “The Wizard of Oz” on TV every year and noticing that as I got older, I got more confused by Dorothy’s quote near the end, ” if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further (NOTE: should that have been ‘farther’) than my own backyard because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with”. I remember immediately going on the defensive in my mental debate, “What the heck, is that telling me… that travel isn’t important, is that saying I won’t find happiness outside of my own neighborhood. Why my husband is the result of a long distance relationship?” It sounded like a lot of hooey.

Ultimately I came to the conclusion that “my own back yard” isn’t a step off the back deck. It’s ourselves. Our heart’s desire starts within our hearts; we have to work on our own issues before we can begin to open up to what the world has to offer. And that sounded profound and good, and I was satisfied with my interpretation, except I was still getting hung up on the part that she “never really lost it to begin with.” So I did what any sane person would do with a decades old conundrum – just focused on the backyard and all it has to offer.

We’re having up to 4 snow storms in under two weeks (one alone swamped us with 18 inches of the stuff). Between the snow and the pandemic, I’ve been feeling a bit more trapped than usual, feeling sorry for myself because I just can’t get out and explore new places for my photography. So today, as the plows honked their horns at 8 a.m. to evacuate all vehicles from the condo parking lots, I took my camera and ran…. around town, well, small city actually – Haverhill, Massachusetts. I gave myself an hour and a half off and looked for every joyful thing I could find within the confines of my 35 square mile city and the 90-minute deadline.

These are the photos of what filled my heart in Haverhill today after the second of four storms. They aren’t all award winners, but they are all heart elevators, at least for me. I hope I can share my joy with you.

Text and Photos (c) Alison Colby-Campbell

Defining Success in Photography

Let’s face it, we wouldn’t enter if we didn’t hope. And that is why after missing the Farm Photo deadline, all my hope was behind the two photographs I entered into the 2017 Topsfield Fair Fine Arts Professional category. And that is why I zoomed passed all the fascinating sights, sounds, and smells along the way to get to the middle of the Fair ASAP. Destination  – Coolidge Building.

IMG_0025 Middleton Stream Team 2016 Contest 8x10 w watermark

My pace slowed as my eyes adjusted and then darted in every direction inside the fine art section. The other entries!!! Wow, such stellar talent on display. My expectations deflated with each in the never ending sequence of awesome photos that weren’t mine.  I couldn’t even locate my entries. Eventually, I found one, and then the other, neither obstructed by any colored ribbon. I didn’t win, even though I really loved my photos.

DSC_6030 2017 PHOTO CONTEST Haverhill Fat bike Race Series at Plug Pond 2017 PHOTO CONTEST

I wrapped my head around the fact there wasn’t going to be a long section in my Christmas letter about photography scores this year. But that mood dampening thought dissolved in the presence of pat-loving sheep, Volkswagen-sized pumpkins, and ice cream melting on warm blueberry crisp. Instead the future called to me in the potential to snag a few photos as the sky warmed then dimmed in a way that really showcased the fair’s neon. Is that portion of ferris wheel at sunset a potential winner? I shot until batteries died, then switched cameras until those batteries died, too,  then dragged myself and my 10+lbs of equipment to the car. I’d be back again at least one more time this year.

IMG_9137 Topsfield fair rides at dusk 2017

The Fair though it spans 10-days was over almost as quickly as my blueberry crisp and it was time to retrieve this year’s best hope. One photo could not be located. Hey what?! I loved that picture; you have to find it. And then hope crept back in as I haltingly queried: “Is it…possible… it sold?” Without knowing me, I got the impression the woman assisting me had sized me up as a procrastinating non-winner, she seemed disengaged.  In her defense, she probably had lots to do to tie up loose ends with this Fair and prepare for the next in 346 days. She went back to look, again. I wanted to shout after her – “I can explain.  I couldn’t come to the official pick up day because my dad went into the hospital, yes I am a procrastinator but not this time… he’s doing better by the way.”

IMG_0475 Topsfield Fair 2017

She came back empty handed and made a call. Then with a simple quiet comment let me know that the other photo had sold. What!!!! I tried to match her professional and quiet demeanor by tamping down my enthusiasm and withholding loud statements like  “WOOHOO! Where are the confetti cannons, the marching band, the interviews on TMZ?” This subduing effort subsequently exploded my brain as I took an email address from her to get more information and promptly lost it even before completing the series of calls I made in the parking lot to hopefully interested family members. I sold a photo, the very first time I offered one for sale at Topsfield Fair! Whoever bought it, you rock.

IMG_0533 Topsfield Fair 2017 rides

I had a day to get over that excitement (okay, I’m not really over it yet) when I received a request asking my husband and me to be part of a new regional photography exhibition to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the 21-city and town Ipswich River Water Shed Association.  And that just jump started my excitement all over. And my Christmas letter, as I write it in my mind,  is sounding pretty good!

(c)Alison Colby-Campbell

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

 

 

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.

img_9675-haverhill-cows-photobomb-pitch-book-calendar-state-house

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.

img_6187-haverhill-dempsey-boardwalk-harbor-place-basiliere-solar-bench

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.

dsc_2714-boardwalk-pitchbook

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.

img_4667-pretty-street-in-haverhill

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.

img_1229-haverhill-merrimack-winter-snow-pitch-book-calendar-state-house-essex-national-heritage

(c)Alison Colby-Campbell