Worldly, Keene New Hampshire
Posted by Cindy A Stephens
Main streets and back roads of Keene, New Hampshire
Keene is described on the town website as “rural and folksy in some ways, but it's worldly as well.” I suppose this is an apt description for Main Street Keene, New Hampshire, which is home to quaint stores (selling handicrafts and homemade candy) and also to an adult store selling adult toys, videos and smoking equipment.
I had been to Keene only once before. On this sunny afternoon I was making my way North, from Gardner, Massachusetts, where I had stopped to photograph on Main Street (read my Gardner blog).
I remembered Keene as a charming, vibrant downtown that didn’t show any ill effects from the difficult economic situation of the prior few years. There were plentiful cafes and restaurants, numerous quaint shops, a movie theater and lots of Main Street visitors. I also remembered the store for adults.
Copyright 2013 Cindy A Stephens
The store seems rather incongruously situated next to its more traditional neighbors. And indeed, articles in local newspapers report a mixed perspective on whether the store is appropriate for Main Street. For a photographer’s eye, however, it delivers good photography subject matter.
I have mentioned previously that one of my favorite things about photographing on main streets and back roads is discovering unexpected memorabilia in storefront windows, like Smith and Corona® typewriters or a black and white photo of Donny and Marie Osmond.
It is just as rewarding, photographically, to find modern paraphernalia to work with. These seemingly mirror opposites each tell Main Street’s stories.
Copyright 2013 Cindy A Stephens
Finding myself in front of this adult store window I took advantage of the happenstance (I hadn’t planned to visit Keene) to create better images than on my prior visit. On my first visit 18 months prior, the store had only been open for a couple of weeks. The storefront window was relatively sparse and the overcast day led to fairly unimpressive lighting.
Today, the sun was shining, the store appeared well stocked, and there was a man demonstrating glassblowing. Quite a difference from the scene before me in 2011. When a pregnant Mom and her young son stopped to watch the glass blowing I knew the photography “gods” were smiling upon me. I had an opportunity to juxtapose the adolescent scene outside the store with the more adult one inside.
For me, Main Street Keene exemplifies contemporary America, one where old traditions survive alongside new customs. This is exactly the concept of Main Street I want to personify in my Reflections from Main Street work – one that is flesh-and-blood and not merely the opposite of “Wall Street”.
Until the next journey to main streets and back roads… - Cindy
I am a marketing professional and a fine art photographer. With more than 20 years of experience as a marketer and image maker during the digital technology revolution, I now teach creative professionals how to create their artistic presence in the changing art world.
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