Portland Head Light, Maine.

Really I don’t.

Though these pictures may lead you to believe otherwise, lighthouses really don’t do much for me.

Sure they’re pretty, they’re scenic, and they’re about as iconic New England as it gets, blah, blah, blah. Everything a lighthouse aficionado could possibly want. Still, even though there are several quite photogenic lighthouses within short driving distances from my home in New Hampshire, I rarely feel motivated to photograph them. I think part of the issue I have with photographing lighthouses, bordering on aversion, is that everybody and their brother with a camera is already photographing them. One of the lighthouses near me, the Cape Neddick “Nubble” Light (below) located just off the coast in York, Maine, is actually reputed – with good reason – to be the most photographed lighthouses in the U.S.

Does the world really need another image of this admittedly beautiful location?

It’s still Christmas in February, at Nubble Light.

The motivating factor(s).

Waves and Whaleback Light.

This isn’t to say I absolutely will not under any circumstances photograph lighthouses. I just need the right motivation or inspiration to do so.


Motivation No. 1 ~ Can I do it differently?

One thing that will inspire me to photograph lighthouses is an idea for something unique.* Be it composition, time of day, or trying a new technique, if I have an idea for an image that I feel will be unique compared to the majority of the images out there, I’ll give it a try. Probably the most common way I’ve attempted to create unique images of lighthouses is to NOT place all the emphasis on the lighthouse itself, often including them in the background almost as if they’re an afterthought.

In the image above, yes I intentionally included Whaleback Light when composing the image, but my main focus, pun intended, was that wonderful rock and the waves splashing over it in such spectacular fashion.

The same can be said for this(yet another) photo below including Nubble Light taken a few years ago. I drove to York specifically because of the lighthouse, but I had no intention of giving the lighthouse top billing once I got there. For that matter, if I had the time and patience to clone the lighthouse completely out of the photo I would have been just as(more?) happy with how this sunrise photo came out.

That surf, and there’s Nubble Light too.

*Attempting to create something different than everyone else applies to any often photographed subject or location, not just lighthouses. The more popular the subject, the harder I try to come up with a unique way to capture it.

Motivation No. 2 ~ Dramatic weather.

Is that Portland Head Light in that wave photo?.

Everyone visits lighthouses when the weather is nice, and sunny, and warm. I prefer to visit them when the wind is blowing, the waves are huge, or when it’s -10°F, give or take. That’s when I like to catch a lighthouse.

– 12°F on the NH seacoast, Brrrrr!
But sea smoke!!
(From back in my way too big watermark days).

And last but not least. Or maybe it should be first.

Motivation No. 3 ~ Can’t think of anywhere else to go.

When you absolutely, positively, cant think of anywhere else to go.

That’s right, most of the time I find myself photographing lighthouses is because I had wanted to head to the seacoast but can’t decide on anywhere else to go. There are plenty of great places to capture a seascape along the New Hampshire and southern Maine coast, and I’ve photographed at a lot of them. Still, as much as I want to go out and photograph, sometimes I’m simply not “feeling” any of them.

Case in point, I had last Monday off from work and wanted to go out for some photo time. But, I really didn’t want to go to any of my usual favorites.

So I guess I’ll settle for a lighthouse.

Combining a little from Motivation factor No. 2, with an impending winter storm potentially adding drama to the sky, and a whole lot of Motivation No. 3, I decided to head over to Maine and the Cape Neddick “Nubble” Light (photos 2 and 7).

Still, I don’t do lighthouses. Most of the time.

If you’d like to support me by purchasing any of the images included in this post, simply click on the image and you’ll be brought directly to the image on my website. Thank you!

10 thoughts on “I Don’t Do Lighthouses.

    1. Thank you! When I do photograph them I very rarely make them the main focus of the image. I’d much prefer to include them as part of an overall “seascape” as opposed to the resulting image being just another photo of a lighthouse. Weather is also a key factor, as most of the photos show.

  1. There really is something photographically magnetic about a lighthouse–and other popular iconic scenes–and I’m right with you in the quest to try to see them in a new way. It’s a great challenge, and it surely has its rewards.

  2. I love the way you explain your thinking in so many of your posts. Thank you! Love the water/sky/rock combinations in these photos (and the way the lighthouses add but don’t distract). Nice work!

    But when you mentioned your “too big” watermark, I went looking for your current smaller one, and noticed that some of these photos don’t appear to have any. Should they have?

    1. Thanks, Diana. Now if only I could regain the motivation to write more often. Not sure if it’s the pandemic or what it is, but I don’t have nearly the inspiration to write, or take photos for that matter, that I used to.

      As for the watermark, I’ve been using it less and less lately. I mostly use it for branding purposes as it is fairly distinctive. The biggest reason I’ve stopped using it all the time is that I know some find it distracting, and some who may be interested in purchasing a prints of a given image don’t realize that the watermark will not appear on any print they buy.

Comments and thoughtful critiques are always welcome.

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