Nantucket Avenue, Oak Bluffs, 2008
I was a holiday print sale and party the other night at photographer Glen McClure’s studio. One of the photographs on the wall of the studio shows a beautiful young woman in a marching band in Ireland. I can’t remember whether the picture was taken on St. Patrick’s Day, or not. Whatever the event, the band was dressed in its finest ceremonial gear. Just looking at the picture you can imagine the cacophony of marching column of buzzing fifes, moaning bagpipes and rat-a-tat drums.
The tradition, as told to Glen, is that the band starts beating its drums at first light and marches from village to village over the course of the day, picking up other bands and players in each place. Villagers ply the musicians with food and drink.
But that’s not the story here. What’s relevant is that Glen so liked this particular portrait that on a subsequent trip to Ireland he returned to the town where he’d taken it and tried to find the girl so that he could give her a copy of the photo. She was out of the country. But as luck would have it, the local pub keeper knew the woman’s family and said he’d get the photo to them.
Several months later, after he’d returned to the United States, Glen got an e-mail from the young lady. She was tickled to have such a fine portrait of herself and beside herself with appreciation that Glen had gone to the trouble of bringing a print back to Ireland for her.
Those of us who share photographs online have this kind of thing happen from time to time. We know what it is to connect with someone and give them the gift of a nice photo of themselves or their home or some other subject that has personal meaning to them.
Over the years, a few of the people I’ve photographed have found me and I’ve been able to share copies of photos with them. This happens a lot, too, with homes and farms and such. A photograph of a farmhouse I took out on the prairie near Beatrice, Nebraska, elicited all sorts of comments from Nebraskans who knew the house—one person drives past it every day on her way to and from work—and the family that owns it.
On another occasion I was contacted by someone whose best friend owns a summer home I’d photographed at Thousand Island Park, a summer community along the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York. We arranged for a print to be framed for the homeowner’s 70th birthday party.
Just recently I got a phone call from a man who lives on the lower end of Cape Cod. It turns out I’ve photographed his family’s iconic summer home at Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, several times through the years. (It's the house shown above.) He’d seen one of my photos of the house in a magazine and tracked me down to get a copy of the print.
Sharing photographs like this doesn’t earn you any money. But the joy and pleasure it brings are worth far more than money.