As a travel photographer, I generally spend about three days doing research for every day that I’m on the road. I tend to look for oddities — those strange, twisted places that rarely make it into the tour books.
What a lot of us don’t realize is that these kinds of fascinating, curious attractions are all around us, right in our own backyards. I live about 20 minutes from Yale University, for example, and unless you were familiar with the campus, you might never know that there are some incredible gargoyles and relief sculptures decorating the faces of the buildings.
If you hang out there enough, they seem to peek over your shoulder and surprise you — as if to ask, “What took you so long to notice us?”
Speaking of sculptures, I also live near an antique store called United House Wrecking. It has a huge outdoor display area featuring yard sculptures, statues, urns and metal work, as you can see in the image above. The store started out as a salvage company and is now an antique-shop version of the Twilight Zone.
And it’s right in my own backyard — no road maps required.
Joy in the Mundane
Then I started thinking about my actual backyard, and all the time our family spends there. I certainly take a lot of pretty pictures of the flora and fauna behind our home, but here’s a simple shot of weeding the garden that, in the long run, is more meaningful to me.
A few years after my father passed away, I was going through some boxes of old photos. I came across one of him cooking dinner — just cooking dinner. I was thrilled.
There he was, living life and making a meal for our family as he so often did. Considering the fact that my father was a professional photographer, too, we have a surprising dearth of photos like it. So when I find one, it’s like discovering a rare gold coin. I truly cherish it.
These days, I keep a camera with me around the house and in the yard almost all of the time. In fact, one of my point-and-shoots lives on the kitchen counter, dedicated to simply capturing the mundane.
Traveling the country to shoot beautiful sunsets and pretty scenics is great, but you should never neglect the treasures in your own backyard. That includes unusual nearby attractions — and the people nearest to your heart.