I like to get closer than this. Some photographers love wide open shots (and who can blame them?). That feeling of far-off observer is a beautiful thing. But I want to get closer.
In places like this, however, it’s not always possible. Closer means drawing attention. If I were in a white pickup truck, that might not be an issue. But I’m in a car with out-of-state plates. I’m clearly an outsider, and that needs to be taken into account when driving the backstreets of rural Montana (or anywhere) towns.
Just because a place is public, doesn’t mean that you’re welcome. It doesn’t automatically mean you’re unwelcome, of course. Usually nobody cares at all. But once you turn off the main street, you’ll see heads poke out from curtains and residents step out onto porches. It’s just curiosity. Everybody generally knows everybody else. When they see an unknown car (of all things), they figure that I’m visiting someone they know.
But when I stop, pull out a camera and start shooting houses and businesses owned by their friends, their curiosity turns to defense. These places are guarded – sometimes for good reason, often because that’s just how small towns are. I do my best to empathize, tread lightly, and keep stepping.
‘Unsailed and Shoreless’
Camera: Argus C3 (1957)
Film: Tasma Mikrat 300 (x-1975); 6iso
Process: HC-110; 1+100; 60min
Fort Shaw, Montana