Discovering a Small Town with my Camera

19th century view   Green window    Texaco 1      the boats   control pannel    Red Bricks  Hippies use back door  Phillips 66 twenty five cents a ride

I usually like to have a plan when I go out to photograph a subject. However, this past weekend when my goal was to photographically discover a small town or city like I did in La Conner, Washington, USA, the unusual and unknown becomes the accepted rater than the exception. The experience was one of those rare times when I just wanted to wander about and let the unexpected observations rule the day.

The distance from my lodging at the Wild Iris Inn in La Conner to the waterfront was about six blocks and that photographic stroll took me nearly two hours. I spent another hour photographing the buildings, and the boats moored along the boardwalk, and then approximately another hour roaming the adjacent neighborhood on my way back.

I to like wander, and yes, that’s the word that works best. I mounted a 24-70mm on my new (to me) full-frame sensor camera, stepped out of the room and let the historic, western architecture, and the coastal lighting, determine my path. I wasn’t on any direct course by any intent, and spent a lot of time backtracking when I decided to see how the light affected an interesting door, or window, from a different perspective than I had just photographed it.

I checked out the La Conner on-line gallery and it shows lots of scenics and wide images of street side buildings, but my photographic captures didn’t always show the whole. I chose to photograph those parts that caught my attention; signs, doors, railings, roof supports, or the moulding, and sometimes just the window frame, cornice or decorative lintel, and how the light touched them, was what peaked my interest and filled my the memory card of my camera

La Conner is a coastal town of Washington State and received its current name in 1870 from the owner of the area’s first trading post, J.S. Conner to honor his wife, Louisa Ann Conner.  One of my favorite writers, Tom Robbins, author of such great books as “Even Cowgirls get the Blues”, ”Life with the Woodpecker”, and “Another Roadside Attraction” is supposed to be a long-time resident. Each spring, La Conner attracts thousands of visitors to view the wide array of tulips at the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

Here is a humorous note about La Conner: in 2005, the town named the wild turkey as their official Town Bird, however, a debate in 2010 declared the turkeys to be a nuisance and they were removed from the town limits because of “complaints about noise, fecal matter, and ingestion of garden materials”.

This is one that is closer to my heart because it is a story about a dog.  There is a statue of a dog whose name was “Dirty Biter” and he once freely wandered the town. One of his favorite hangouts was an1890’s tavern, where a bar stool was always reserved for him. When he was killed in a dogfight, the heartbroken townspeople named a small park next to his beloved tavern for Dirty Biter and installed a bronze statue of the dog.

I didn’t see any turkeys, or writer Tim Robbins, but I took the time to stop in that tavern before continuing on my photographic stroll and I drank a pint to all of them; Mr. Robbins, the turkeys, poor old Dirty Biter, and of course, the subject of my photographic excursion, the historic town of La Conner.

I always appreciate your comments. Thanks, John

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8 responses to “Discovering a Small Town with my Camera

    • Ya, I had to photograph that – I also thought of times past when I saw it in such excellent condition.
      Back when those were outside stores my folks would never give me the 25 cents to ride one. I guess they were too practical to waste a quarter on something so silly. I wrote “waste on something so silly” I have to think, was that me or the chariot?


  1. Hi John, What do you suppose is behind “hippies use the back door”? Is it tongue in cheek or….? Dolina

    Sent from my iPod 🙂



    • Naw, the shop was just a curiosity store. However, a local woman I met just after I snapped the picture and I laughed about it remembering those times, now so long ago, when that silly sign actually applied to both of us.


  2. I always like visiting La Conner.

    It seems like a step back into the past, a look that the business community there has been rigorously polishing for many years. Any time of the year is great, but to me the Tulip Festival is the most awe inspiring. I have gotten so many tulip field photos over the years that I like, that I can’t help wanting to keep going back at that time of the year too.

    And then there is the food – makes me hungry just to think about it. Not to mention, of course, all the little nick nacks one can find to bring home. I’ve often wanted to pick up some of the furniture on offer too, but, luckily, the vehicle has always been too small!

    Thanks for the great photos, John. Good memories.


    • This was our first time lodging there and we went at this time because it was the rare weekend when nothing was happening. We usually stay in Anacortis during the annual Shipwreck days festival. Linda and her friend wander the miles of flea market items and I stroll off to do photography.. On this visit we stayed two nights in La Conner and one in Anacortis. I wanted to use my Infrared camera in the angled,coastal light. That’ll be this week post.
      The Anacortis Shipwreck festival will be in July and I’ll be there snapping away again this year.


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