November Photographer of the Month: Todd Felton

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Our November Photographer of the Month is a very special part of Wandering Educators - he's our Literary Travels Editor, Robert Todd Felton.  He's written several books, including A Journey into the Transcendentalists' New England, A Journey into Ireland's Literary Revival, and Walking Boston.  He also wrote National Geographic Travelers' online guide to Boston that is part of their "Places of a Lifetime" series.

 

Todd Felton - sand dunes

Sand dunes near Chatham

Recently, we featured his incredible article, To the Edge of Europe in Search of Literature. The photos that Todd had in the article were stunning gems, showing a side to Ireland that I hadn't seen before.  I was lucky enough to sit down and talk with Todd about his photography - here's what he had to say...

 

WE:  How did you get interested in photography?

TF: I was incredibly lucky to have two parents who firmly believed in travel, so
I was able to see and do things growing up that deeply affected me.  In
addition, both my father and grandfather were avid photographers and I'm a
very visual learner, so it was probably inevitable that I would enjoy taking
pictures.

 

WE:  How long have you been a photographer?

TF: I got started as a professional photographer the best way, by coincidence.

A week after leaving my job as an English teacher to pursue a writing
career, I received an email from a friend asking if I knew of any freelance
writers who might be interested in doing a literary guidebook to the
Transcendentalists of New England.  The project would include travel,
writing, and photography.  I responded by asking how soon I could start.

Images from A Journey into the Transcendentalists' New England

 

Wayside House, Todd Felton 

This image is of the Wayside House in Concord, Massachusetts.  It was the
former home of both the Alcott family (of Louisa May and Bronson) and
Nathaniel Hawthorne.

North Bridge, Todd Felton

This is the north bridge in Concord.  It is near the Old Manse, former home
to both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne.  It is also the site of
the "shot heard round the world," one of the first battles of the
Revolutionary war.

Autumnal Walden, Todd Felton 

This image is of the north side of Walden Pond, where Henry David Thoreau
lived in a small house by the lake side -- an experience that later formed
Walden.

Since then, it was been a wonderful ride.  In addition to providing the
photographs for my three books and a number of my articles, I have done solo photographic exhibitions in places like bookstores, The Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, and a college campus.  I also have shot portraits for a literary journal, and gone on a photographic trip to Cuba.

 

Images from my A Journey into Ireland's Literary Revival

 

Aran Cairn, Todd Felton 

I found this rock cairn on the tiny Aran island of Inis Meain.  John
Millington Synge often came there to smoke, write, and observe the
islanders.

 

Inis Meain, Todd Felton

This is the rest of the island of Inis Meain, made famous by Synge.

Coole Park, Galway, Todd Felton 

This is the path that lead up to Lady Gregory's estate, Coole Park in
Galway.  While living here, she hosted the likes of Bernard Shaw, Sean
O'Casey, and William Butler Yeats, who came the most and stayed the longest.

 

Images from Walking Boston

 

Boston window, Todd Felton

I came across this lovely window of the Barking Crab seafood shack right on
the Fort Point Channel.

Fenway Park, Todd Felton 

Who can take pictures of Boston and not include the world famous hand
operated scoreboard at Fenway Park?  This stadium packs in more history than some of Boston's historical sites.

 

Images from my recent trip to Cuba:

 

Cuba, Todd Felton 

The view of Havana from my hotel room:

Cuba, Market, Todd Felton 

At the market

 

Cuba, Todd Felton 

I caught this woman walking by just one of the many propaganda signs that
dot the city and the country.  She just had her head down and was going
about her business.

 

WE:  What is your favorite place to photograph?  Subject?

TF: There is a small bay near Chatham on Cape Cod called Mill Pond.  No matter what type of day or time of day it is, the light seems to do wonderful
things there.  The colors of the sea grass and the water give a richness and
hue that is tough to match. I have gotten shots of boats, osprey, crabs,
grass, and a myriad of other things that I have been pleased with. However,
the best part of the place is that my two boys completely forget that I am
there and so I can get shots of them completely in their element.

Todd Felton

My boys, with their prey 

 

Todd Felton

The crab catcher at work

 

Todd Felton

Father and son sharing a quiet moment at the dock

 

WE:  How difficult is it to take film on travels?  Or does one really need
to be all digital?

TF: I have a number of stories where, faced with needing to get a specific shot, my digital camera has run out of battery or card space, or has had another difficulty and I've had to rely on my film camera. If you are away from home and serious about getting the images you want, you'd better have back up.

I had unfortunately left both batteries of my digital in my hotel room when
I went out for a jog in Rosses Point, just north of Sligo.  Fortunately, my
car and film camera were nearby for this shot of the Rosses Point
lighthouse, near where the poet William Butler Yeats often came sailing.

Rosses Point, Ireland, Todd Felton

 

I was on my way back to my hotel to dump two full memory cards into my
computer, when I saw this rainbow came up.  If I had fiddled with the cards
to make room, I would have missed the shot.  Luckily, my film camera was
loaded and ready.

River Liffey, Ireland, Todd Felton

 

 

WE:  Are there rules in other countries people need to be aware of about
who or what you can or cannot shoot?

TF: The vast majority of rules are common sense.  Be aware of cultural taboos where photography is frowned on.  Be aware of people who seem uncomfortable with your camera or you.  Be aware that the device you are holding in your hand may be worth more money that a person makes in a year.  That is not to say be afraid of theft -- it means that we need to be very aware of our privilege.

On a slightly lighter note, in Massachusetts, it is illegal to take
photographs for commercial purposes inside a graveyard, any graveyard,
without a permit.  I found this out the hard way.

Images from my upcoming book on England:

England - Todd Felton

 

England - Todd Felton

 

WE:  What other projects are you involved with?

TF: In addition to working with Wandering Educators, I write for my own blog, Open Page, Open Road (http://openpage-openroad.blogspot.com/) and am the travel photography editor for Picture My Camera.  I am also working on a third book for Roaring Forties Press.  This one is on the English Lake District where William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge lived and wrote poetry.

 

WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

TF: Only that I welcome questions, suggestions, and conversation with Wandering Educators readers.  What are their best shots?

 

WE: Thanks so much - your work is magnificent. I feel honored to have had the opportunity to find out the story behind the great photos!

You can see more of Todd's truly engaging work -  photos, essays, and books, at

www.rtoddfelton.com

http://openpage-openroad.blogspot.com/

http://redroom.com/member/robert-todd-felton

Additionally, all of these beautiful images are available for download
and purchasing prints. Todd is available for portraits and commercial
photography.

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