Smithville: Large Format and photo friendly
Ive had some fairly negative experiences the last month+ while out shooting on the weekends. Despite my best efforts to be cordial, polite, and respectful some people just have a thorn in their side towards photographers. People being openly beligerent getting overly excited/angry at me and my bulky cambo 4x5.
Yesterday was a rejuvenating experience. I spent a few hours developing some rolls in the darkroom at about lunchtime and after doing so I loaded three film holders with some FP4 I have in reserve. I felt a need to just get outside and be alone and shoot some where but didnt have a location in mind.
Low and behold I sign on to APUG and a fellow texas APUGer (Photomc) had sent me a private message mentioning some potential little towns in central texas I should explore. Impeccable timing photomc and a million thanks.
so I got in the car with it drizzling just slightly and started driving towards Smithville. the drizzle turned into full on rain and continued almost my entire 40 min drive. but I wouldnt let it deter me. I pushed through and literally as I drove into the "historic" part of smithville the rain gods turned off the faucet. Not a drop in the sky almost as I opened the car door. Luckily the rain had scared off most of the antique shoppers so I was walking around the street almost completely alone.
I noticed a three story building with an old diner attached to the side of it. it was pretty well intact on the first floor but most of the 2nd and 3rd story windows were knocked out. the building was fairly old and neglected so I walked around it for a while looking for interesting shots, if any.
I walked across the street and was caddy corner to it setting up my 4x5 and taking meter reading etc. out walked a older gentlemen from one of the doors on the first floor. he was wearing some big overalls and a workshirt. when I saw him out of the corner of my eye I almost instinctually started packing my stuff back up, given my recent experiences, I just didnt want to offend anyone and wouldnt argue with him if he didnt want me photographing the building. he said hello and told me not to pack up he just wanted to see what I was shooting with, as he was a fellow photographer as well.
His name was alex and he was extraordinarily friendly. so open and willing to talk about the building and its history. Pines Hotel was built in 1910 and he bought it a few years back and turned the first floor into a woodworking shop. He makes fine furniture and after I was invited in fine doesnt do it justice. Truly gorgeous peices of ART that happen to function as furniture. He had turned the diner attached to it into a "storage" space for all the exotic woods he stocked. some of the most gorgeous colors and types of wood my eyes have ever seen. his designs were astounding and too boot he was also a shooter as well. he had an old beastly studio 8x10 with a 4x5 back on it, hand crank cart setup and all. it was gorgeous.
so after admiring his wood storage and all the fine furniture he was working on I left and continued to explore the town at his request.
if anyone has the means to visit smithville I would highly reccomend it for shooting. or at the very least the visit would be worth it just to see some of Alexs wonderfully gorgeous furniture and to meet some nice people in a very friendly and welcoming town.
Experiences like yesterday more than outweigh the multiple negative experiences. Very rejuvenating.
thought I would share that with some fellow str(thr)iving photographers.
Sounds like a nice place. It doesn't take much to turn something into a nice day out. Chalk one up for the nice people of the world... their getting fewer!
Glad the tip worked out..there are a great number of little towns like Smithville in that area. Many of the buildings seem to have been built around the late 1800's into the early 1900's. Makes me wonder why no one really builds like that anymore...they really look great.
A side note about Smithville, it is where the film 'Hope Floats' with Sandra Bullock was filmed and the town seems to have been helped quite a bit by the film industry afterwords.