Thursday, June 23, 2016


Scale model, Boston Society of Architects, June 2016

I LIKE CITIES. I always feel like a spectator in the country, a witness to the landscape, but in a city there's this sense of participation, a density of setting and a potentially volatile relationship with humans and creatures in front of your camera that makes every shutter click unique. Cities have their own rules and logic and built vocabulary and one of the main reasons why I've taken up travel writing is the opportunity to visit new ones.

I'd never been to Boston before last week, and I have to confess my mental image of the city was vague, at best. There was a colonial town and a college town and a business district and a seaport and for the purposes of the story I was there to write I ignored most of that except for the briskly modern streetscapes of M.I.T. It felt familiar - very much like my hometown of Toronto right down to the construction cranes that announce a development boom in progress.

Boston & Cambridge, June 2016

By my yardstick Boston is a successful town - old and prosperous and full of interesting architecture, both notable and prosaic. I spent most of my time there on foot, wandering between the seaport and SoWa and South Boston and Cambridge. I did my best to avoid the colonial landmarks in favour of those areas where I always seem to find the best shots - residential areas and side streets, alleyways and the fringes of urban infrastructure.

Boston, June 2016

My assignment had me shooting pictures very different from what I like putting up here. This looks to be a permanent feature of my travel shooting for the next while, which makes what I do with my cameras on the job feel a little schizophrenic - looking for clean, happy, travelogue shots on one hand and the usual abstractions and urban snapshots with another.

Boston, June 2016

I let myself include people in my personal shots more openly this time around, partly because I was always looking to fit them into the job shooting, but simply because they really can't be avoided in cities, after all, even if I still set out looking for those perfect "post-neutron bomb" views, stark and unpeopled.

If everything works out, my next job will take me to a very different place, far from the cities. It'll be "God's country," all sky and forest and mountains, and I'm thinking I should challenge myself by setting out to shoot portraits instead of landscapes.

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