15 years ago, this photograph of Weld Boathouse marked the start of my new photography career
In 2005, after an extended period of turmoil in my life, I scraped together enough money to take a vacation to Boston, a city I’d always wanted to visit but had never seen. It was the holidays and I spent them there — a welcome change of scenery from Texas, where I lived at the time.
Boston did not disappoint. I saw a lot of historic sites. I looked at art. I enjoyed delicious meals. It snowed. And I took a lot of photographs.
But, this was before I considered myself any kind of photographer. I was a professional art director who made art as a hobby on the side. At the time, I was making pencil drawings and watercolors. I had learned darkroom practice in high school and had been taking photographs for years, but photographs for me were mementos for remembering family occasions, for making portraits of my kids, or for use as reference materials for making the my other art — the drawings and watercolors.
The black and white photograph of Weld Boathouse, taken on News Years Day 2006, marked a turning point. The beautiful range of tones, the composition, the reflection, the silence, the mood. . . it all spoke to me. When I looked at this finished photograph, I saw it not as source material for making a watercolor or drawing — I saw the photograph as THE ART. It was a life-changing revelation.
I had a lot to learn and a long way to go before I really came to see myself as a photographer, but after this trip to Boston, and especially this photograph, the page had turned. Eventually, I stopped pursuing other kinds of art altogether. Photography became my sole artistic pursuit.
When a friend suggested I join Etsy in 2007, I was still making color and black and white images. Over time, I made the conscious commitment to concentrate on black and white photography, forgoing color images altogether.
15 years later, I’m still making black and white photographs. And, I’m still learning about photography. But in the years since that trip to Boston, I’ve had photographs accepted into art galleries and exhibitions. I’ve had photographs appear as wall art in television shows and movies. My work has been collected by hotel chains, major universities, medical facilities, corporations, and all kinds of other organizations. I’ve been interviewed by magazines. Photography students in the UK have studied my work for class projects. I’ve shipped prints to collectors in Europe, Australia, Dubai, Canada, and all across the US.
This was a direction I never expected my life to take, but photography has become a lifestyle and a passion. It’s something I want to do every single day. I want to know more about the history of photography and the latest technologies.
All of this stems from this one simple photograph of a snow-covered boathouse on the Charles River in Cambridge.
I hope the next 15 years will bring as much fun, adventure, and photographic opportunities as the past 15!
About Weld Boathouse
The Weld Boathouse was built in 1906, which means it was having its centennial on the year I photographed it.
It was named after George Walker Weld, who donated the funding to build the boathouse, and actually a previous one on the same location as well.
When you look at the boathouse from the opposite shore, you’re standing in Boston and looking at Harvard on the Cambridge side of the river. In fact, the building belongs to Harvard University and is currently home to Harvard’s women’s varsity rowing crews, as well as some sculling crews and other teams.
Weld is one of many boathouses along this stretch of the Charles River.
Thanks for reading.
Be sure to visit me on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, or on my website at keithdotson.com.
Interesting story about “how I got started”. Very enjoyable reading and I can see where that image could be a life-changing moment. Thanks for sharing.