Project “Hometown”: Photography Assignment

Plastic Easter egg on Main Street

Scott, a professional photographer with Scott Thomas Photography over at Views Infinitum blog, features photo assignments for readers and bloggers.  Even beginners can post photographs on our blogs, linking back to the assignment.  His most recent assignment reads thus:

The very first assignment I posted last year was for everyone to do a Collective Shoot.  Ready to do another one?  This time the subject is Your Hometown.  This is different than landmarks as I am looking for one, two or more photos telling us about the place you call Your Hometown.  If you live in the country, show and tell us about the closest town.

Looking for new photographs.  Be creative and have fun!  March is a transition month for most of us. What better way to get out and enjoy it then with a fun photo project.

“In the Mind’s Eye”

I haven’t participated in any of Scott’s assignments before.  We’re new friends; new blogging buddies.  So this is a first.

The deadline for the assignment is tomorrow at midnight.  I began pondering this project down in Florida.

Of course the first question which arose was:  Where IS my hometown?  I usually think of my hometown as a lil’ tiny bitty farming town in the Thumb of Michigan called Yale.  (Assuredly not the university.) However, I have not lived there since 1975.

Pajama-clad mannequin

We live ‘way out in the woods, a dozen miles from the nearest big city of L’Anse, Michigan, population 2,107 in the 2000 census.  Is L’Anse my hometown?  It certainly is our zip code.

Little car collection

Our “real” hometown is a tiny blip on the map–if it even exists on current maps–called Aura.  Aura features a fire hall and a community hall.  That’s it.  No stores.  No gas stations.  No McDonald’s.  No post office.  It’s basically farmlands and forest.

Yep, the Easter Bunny comes to the Keweenaw Bay, too.

Nonetheless, for the sake of this photographic assignment, I decided to focus primarily on L’Anse.  (Although couldn’t resist a couple shots of Aura and enjoyed a lovely talk with the owner of the old general store.  He said it’s for sale.  I volunteered to pass along the word.)  I had ventured into town yesterday to walk with my friend, Lyn, and not a single photo turned out.

Sigh…not a good start for the assignment.

Hopped back into the car today and parked it behind the Green Easter Egg.  See Photo #1.  If you look closely you will see a smiling woman getting out of her car and heading my way.

“What are you doing, Kathy?” asked Joanne, “Taking pictures of Easter eggs?”

L’Anse has its first yoga business!

I explained the assignment and we chatted for about five minutes.  Continued on the walk, snapping pictures.  See the photo of the little cars in the window?  The owner of the shop, Jay, came outside as I took the photos.

“What are you doing?” he wondered.  (I tried to explain in one sentence.)  He said business is a little slow right now.  It seems to be all over town…Baraga County’s unemployment rate is at 28%.  He’s hopeful that things will pick up in the spring.

Canal leading to the Big Lake

Across from the Easter Bunny overlooking the bay, a fellow township official appeared.  We chatted for another five minutes about this and that.

Then I decided to buy a cup of coffee at Espresso on Main (our new coffee shop!)   Debbie, the owner, saw me leafing through a flyer about the new Intention Yoga business next door to her shop.

“You should go over there right now if you want to sign up for a class,” Debby said.  “She’s there today.”

Aura Fire Hall and old time general store (now closed)

So off I went to sign up for a yoga class.  Yes!  It’s a private lesson, next Tuesday.  I warned her of an inability to touch toes, but the owner, Shanel, did not seem fazed.

“We’ll go slowly,” she smiled.

The “town” of Aura. Don’t blink. You’ll miss it.

After picking up a few groceries I drove back home.  And realized something very important.

#1:  I had not taken a single photo of what truly defines a hometown:  people who care about you.  People you care about.  I had been so busy photographing the exterior of my hometown that I’d completely missed the opportunity to take pictures of the precious people.  Plus I’m kinda still kinda shy about this…  (Next time, Scott, OK???)

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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29 Responses to Project “Hometown”: Photography Assignment

  1. Jane says:

    I enjoyed seeing Lanse through your camera and Aura is a one photo kind of town isn’t it? You should of went down and snapped/ snuck a pic of Johns Junkyard… now that would be a winner, LOL

    • Kathy says:

      Jane, funny! I thought about snapping a pic of John’s Junkyard. Maybe I should have mentioned that as an Aura “business”!! Glad you enjoyed the tour through L’Anse. 🙂

  2. Dawn says:

    You know, the entire 6 years I lived in Hancock I don’t think I ever went to L’Anse’s downtown. Ever. Drove past it many times but still…

    I too am shy to ask people for their photo…why is that do you think? It would help a lot to have people in some photos. What a great photo blog to include the owners with their stores…still, they might be suspicious…but I think if you told them it was going to be published they might want some exposure. Maybe.

    Thanks for the photos! Now I can say I’ve “been” to L’Anse! And Aura too!

    • Kathy says:

      Dawn, you’re shy about asking for photos, too? Barry could NOT believe that I came home from all those encounters with people and didn’t snap a single person-shot. Of course, being a newspaper guy, almost every photo has people in it. He had to quit being shy in his 20’s.

      I guess I thought that they would say “no” or be embarrassed or something. but they might have loved it! Next time, next time…

      And glad you have been to L’Anse and Aura now, for sure.

  3. All I can say is SCOOT OVER NORMAN ROCKWELL, THERE’S A NEW KID ON THE HOMETOWN BLOCK!”

    You done did good Kathy … real good!

    • Kathy says:

      Norman Rockwell, Laurie? laughing… Well, not quite. But the town does have an old-time feel to it. The mannequins in Oralie’s are still from the 50’s, I swear…
      thank you!

  4. giiid says:

    Thank you for showing these photos of your little home town, it was very interesting to see and to read about. It do looks nice and quiet, is it a place that people are going to for vacations?

  5. Kathy says:

    Hi giiid, thank you for stopping by! Yes, some people do come here for summer vacations, although it’s not a big tourist destination. It’s mostly a little out-of-the-way town.

  6. Barbara says:

    The Easter bunny seemed happy to let you take his (her?) picture!

  7. Reggie says:

    I love the photos you took! And what a great idea by Scott!

    I also find it very difficult to ask people if I can take their photograph, Kathy, so you’re not alone there. I always worry whether they will think it intrusive, or whether they will feel anxious about how they look.

    I don’t like taking posed photos so much, you know, the ones where everyone has to look straight at the camera and SMILE at the same time!

    I prefer it when they’re at ease, or laughing or talking with someone, or doing something – whether it’s pouring a cup of tea, or sweeping the porch, or wrapping a parcel, or staring into the distance, or playing with a dog, or whatever.

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you, Reggie. Scott did have a great idea–it would have been interesting to see how you would have decided to do this assignment. I agree with everything you said about the challenges of taking people-shots. I would be worried that the person would feel anxious or uncomfortable, too. But maybe they would have loved it!

  8. Cindy Lou says:

    Fun! I remember when I first moved to the area and asked, “Exactly where is Aura?” Got a few vague looks and the answer, “Well….it’s more of a general location than a town.” 🙂

    Can’t wait to hear how your yoga went….something I’ve wanted to try for awhile.

    • Kathy says:

      Cindy Lou…I didn’t even want to add Skanee into the mix. That would have confused things even more! Hey, we could go in together on a yoga session sometime maybe? It’s $30 for two. Whatcha think? $15 each?

  9. flandrumhill says:

    The green Easter egg and the pj clad mannequin are my favorite images of your small town. Even though you haven’t added pics of peeps, I get the sense from your photos that they are most likely unpretentious and down-to-earth.

    • Kathy says:

      Hey those were my favorites too, Ms. Amy! It was hard to take pics of buildings and get anything interesting or professional-looking, I thought. Actually the town kinda looks beat up after winter. It needs a good rain to wash away the gray and dirt and snowbanks. I would love to see what photos Scott would have been able to get of L’Anse yesterday! Now that would have been interesting to see.

  10. Kathy, thank you for participating!!! Small town America is alive and well.

    I know how it is with asking people but I bet they all would have been thrilled to help you. A photo of them inside or in front of their businesses would be a fun project. You are already ahead of me in getting to talk with them. Try it next time. I will, too!

  11. kanniduba says:

    It’s so nice to meet you Kathy! And I loved taking a tour of your area. SO true about photographing people…Scott had better not come up with that one next. lol I’ll take sneaky photographs of strangers who aren’t looking, but not really brave in approaching people yet. I *almost* went in that direction with my post, but chickened out. lol

    • Kathy says:

      Hi kanniduba! Nice to meet you as well. Glad you enjoyed the stroll of my hometown…I sure liked visiting yours! We’ll have to take deep breaths and get some courage and see how many folks we can ask to take their pictures. (You let me know if you succeed!)

  12. truels says:

    Nice place yours: I love the atmosphere in smaller (it looks like) American towns. Makes me remember when I travelled Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California with our 2 girls in 1996 – and when I recently saw one of Wim Wenders’ great films “Don’t come knocking”…

    • Kathy says:

      Hi truels, It was fun visiting your Hometown, as well! I’ve never been to your country, although my daughter and I visited Belgium and the Netherlands a year or two ago. Glad you had the opportunity to visit the States! Come again!

  13. Thank you Kathy for this great tour through Aura (Do you know that L’Anse is a French word meaning handle, cove, bay, inlet). Has it something to do with those descriptions ? I loved the start with the green balloon showing the way… Cute little cars in the window, I can spot an old Beetle, like my very first car. The picture of the canal is lovely, must be nice to walk along it. I liked the way you met people on the way, even without taking any picture. It made me feel like walking with you, chatting, getting to know the men and women living there. That’s a real nice and friendly way to present your hometown. Thank you 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Isabelle, I have heard that is the meaning of the word L’Anse. Thank you for sharing that. L’Anse sits at the head of bay or inlet of water. The French passed through this area back in the 1600’s and named this place. So you had a Beetle! How fun! I am glad you enjoyed the chatty stroll around town. The photos didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped…but the contact with people (and the story that came out of it) made it all so worthwhile.

  14. Pingback: Assignment 6: Recap « Views Infinitum

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