Art, Writing, // February 6, 2014

It Never Hurts To Ask . . .

My downtown neighborhood in historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is one of my favorite places to photograph, with everything from people on the street to architectural detail. In fact, I get so overwhelmed at times with all the potential subjects that I recently decided to zero in on interesting porches, and there are plenty of them.

A couple weeks ago I took my new travel camera out to practice with, and came across a very unique porch. Actually, what was unique was the occupant of that porch.  As is my habit, I rang the doorbell to ask permission to take photographs. There was no answer, so I only took photographs from the sidewalk. As is also my habit, I later printed and matted a 5×7 of my favorite image and delivered it, along with a thank you note. No one was home so I didn’t meet the owner that day either.

By Linda Benzon

By Linda Benzon

This morning I returned to the porch with my “good” camera and rang the doorbell for a third time, and Kathy (with a “K”, nickname for Katharine with an “a”) answered the door. Delighted to meet me, she thanked me profusely for the photo I gave her, and invited me to photograph her porch anytime. I asked about the “Fish Lady” and the antique sleigh. The female porch visitor is actually the third one. The first was stolen, the second just didn’t have the right look and was returned, but the third fits the bill even though she has no hands under those fishing gloves.

The sleigh has an interesting story too. Kathy’s father bought it for her many years ago for $30 at an auction. Someone offered Kathy $500 for it, but that wasn’t enough to make her part with that special memory.

Kathy invited me to see her backyard before I left. I wasn’t surprised to see a little piece of paradise, a relaxing natural landscape with layers of shrubs and flowers accented here and there with whimsical frogs and old galoshes, a small fish pond teaming with bright-orange koi, along with a busy brood of nine hens of nearly as many varieties and colors, all in a tidy coop nearby.

By now nearly an hour had passed, and both of us needed to get on with our day. Kathy graciously offered me some of her grass-fed eggs with their bright orange yolks, and I accepted of course. (Omelets for dinner tonight!) I promised to return to photograph Kathy with her chickens the next time.

My point in sharing this story is that I have found, time and time again, that when I go the extra mile to respect people’s privacy and property, I am almost always rewarded with experiences (and photographs) that far exceed whatever I could have “snatched” along the way. I’m not making judgments about taking photographs without asking permission, I do it all the time in public, and it is perfectly acceptable. I’m just saying that taking extra steps and extra time can enlarge and enrich our experience. It never hurts to ask….



Linda Benzon

Linda Benzon

Linda Benzon, is an award winning and published photographer from Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She is glad to share her images and experiences.