Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Small Town in Each of Us

I firmly believe there is a small town in each of us. That deep, somewhere down deep, there is a yearning to be recognized, not as some kind of freak celebrity type, but just as a guy (or gal) who walks down the street and catches a hat tip from a stranger. That we can hold the door and smile as we walk into the bank or the post office and that there is a local diner somewhere with an otherwise ornery waitress who knows our name and how we take our morning coffee. You know the kind of place I'm talking about here. The kind of place where we fit in. The kind of place where everybody knows us, maybe not directly, but they know our family and they know our lives. Where we are a local, love us or hate us.

I think a big part of what I do photographically is try to find that same small town. I explore small cities (and big cities alike, if I'm being honest) looking for the charm, that grace, that can only be found within the confines of the tiny village. Sometimes I find it in the neighborhoods of the larger cities, but I'm always hunting, always digging, for that connection. That little familiar place where everybody knows everybody and the morning paper doesn't really reveal any shocking news, at least nothing we didn't hear from the town gossip just yesterday afternoon. Yes, I firmly believe there is a small town in each of us.

Maybe it's because I grew up, was raised actually, in a small town just outside of a big city, a really big city, one of the largest in fact. There was always some kind of incongruity there. The small town, where everybody knew my name, felt barren and bleak at times. Like any small town, when I was sowing my wild oats, I wanted to get out, get as far away as I possibly could if, for no other reason, than to prove I actually had it in me to escape. The big city was just that, really big. It had it's neighborhoods and I was once a part of that, but it always felt distant. I was a little bit like a boat approaching a shore, that city was just over the next horizon, so close and yet so out of reach in so many ways. Still, the city had a drumbeat all its own. Big as it was, it too was chopped up into bits and pieces, a tapestry of neighborhoods woven together like some kind of urban quilt. The city was always there, yes, but everybody had a bit of small town in them too when you boiled things down to Johnny in that neighborhood or Jane over here in this one. It's just how things were. The city was so big, it was actually just a fusion of multiple, so very many, small towns.

I still think there is a small town in each of us. We each, each and every one of us, can be defined in some ways by our own personal geographic bubbles. Maybe it's the voyeur in me, but I like exploring those small towns, finding them, revealing them, stretching their limits at times, or perhaps just celebrating them in my own little way. It's kind of a part of what I do, maybe it contributes a bit towards explaining why I like to photograph architecture so much. I'm always looking out for that small town. You may laugh or disregard this, but I know it's out there and I'm determined to find it and show it to you the best way that I know how.

Is there a small town in you?

Until next time...

PS This one taken in a small town on the island of Santorini, near the city of Fira. Pink and white buildings at dusk, with a couple of blue domes thrown in for good measure.

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