Sunday, August 10, 2014

Glen Haven Cannery

When photographing do you prefer to photograph the subject alone or the subject in context?

This is a question I posed to a friend over dinner last weekend. I knew that he enjoyed photography but we have never really discussed the subject together before.

I am always curious how other photographers see a scene. I think that also carries over to how we see life.

photo credit: Michael Steers
He replied that he likes the wider view, the subject in context. This response made complete sense to me since he does a lot of sports photography (the center #74 in the above photo is his son Nick). It is better to have an individual player or team shown on the field or making plays as opposed to a close up of their face.

photo credit: Michael Steers
He also loves aviation museums, choosing to show the airplanes in the context of the museum.

I prefer to shoot subject alone and even more preferably, only bits and pieces of the subject. This explains why I don't like landscape photography.

A good example of subject alone for me was our recent exploration of the Glen Haven Cannery.

The bright red building with the bold white lettering has fascinated me for as long as we have been coming to the Leelanau Peninsula.

I have many shots of the outside of the building over the years, but none that ever show the building in context with the rest of the town. This photograph is the closest I have come to showing it in context. This was taken from farther down the beach at the Maritime Museum looking back up the beach at the village of Glen Haven.

The Glen Haven Canning Co. was established in the early 1920's on the shores of Lake Michigan near the village shipping dock. They shipped cherries and a variety of other fruits to market through various Great Lakes cities. With the improvement in roads and rail service, the importance of the Glen Haven dock faded, until finally the steamships stopped coming in 1931. The dock was used by private boaters for a few years until it fell into disrepair. The cannery operated until the early 1940's canning cherries from the local area and North Manitou Island.

This year was the first time we had the opportunity to explore the inside of the cannery. There is nothing cannery related inside, instead on display are boats and fishing related equipment.

Even though I would have loved to learn more about the history of the cannery and see antique equipment, the vintage boats, motors and other fishing artifacts were still enjoyable to photograph.

These inside shots are more examples that I prefer to shoot subject alone and bits and pieces of subject vs. the subject in context.

What about you? Do you prefer to shoot subject alone or subject in context?

Linking with Helen for a Weekend Walk


  1. I love the cannery! Like you, I prefer the subject alone, and/or parts of the subject. I guess that is why flowers are one of my favorites! Another great post!

  2. Hmmmm . . . good question.
    Love the boat . . . all in white . . .
    Probably subjects alone . . . one flower, part of a flower, inside of it . . .

  3. I prefer candid shots whenever possible...

  4. I think you know where I stand Sarah !! Love all those close up shots fabulous....

  5. I never thought of it that way. I love looking at pictures taken in context, and have even wondered why I don't have pictures that show the whole setting, Now I know. I love taking the in your face and personal.


  6. I shoot both, probably about evenly. I LOVE the first photo of the boat inside the cannery. The lines, the light, and your processing - gorgeous!

  7. Mostly a subject girl but the in context photos have their place too. For instance I love the cannery shot showing all the woods around. Really gives me a sence of the place. Love the white boat and the motor shot. Too bad they did save any canning equipment.

  8. I lean more toward the subject, but I do take a lot of landscape though I rarely post them anywhere. I love the details and textures of the subject. I love the white boat inside the cannery! So beautiful!

  9. Fun topic! I tend to see things as part of a scene, but whenever I see photos of the object, or just parts of an object - I think I really need to try seeing things in a different way.

  10. Hmmmmmm-----never thought of it this way, but since shooting landscape is a stretch for me, I'd say I'm a subject shooter. Love getting up close and out of context shots.

  11. I like my 'piece and parts' images better than my 'wide view' images, although I think there is a time and place for both. Maybe I like them both because each view tells a different story and together they complete the story. Your close ups are wonderful, and my favorite, I love the details. But the shots in context tell me where they were taken, completing the story.

  12. I find if I do a wide view then there is usually an unwanted distraction - especially when photographing old places - bits of ugly plastic pipes, lighting, advertising and rubbish bins etc. I think that's why I like closer crops. However, if I'm telling a story it sort of makes sense to give a wider picture to place it in context … but then I don't always do this! Thanks for linking up with me!


Thank you so much for visiting today and taking the time to read my thoughts on life. :)