A Winter in Maine

Posted by on Feb 17, 2015 in Projects | 66 Comments
A Winter in Maine

For Christmas and New Year my wife Rebecca and I traveled to New England in the United States to spend time with our family. We were really looking forward to experiencing a real winter again after so many years in Ireland without snow and ice. We didn’t know much about the area before we left and just picked a little house in mid-coast Maine that would accommodate a small group of people.

Landing in Boston and driving up the US east coast was already a great experience. I loved the traditional New England building style and the landscape got wilder by the mile. After two and a half hours in the car we lost cellphone reception and drove through beautiful little fishing villages along the Maine coast. Another hour later we arrived at our little house, which was completely remote, directly by the sea and awaited us with a basement full of firewood.

The following three weeks were one of the most beautiful and memorable in my whole life. Rebecca and I completely fell in love with the area and spent every waking minute outside exploring. The rugged beauty of the area was astounding. I love simplicity, that’s what I always admired most about Italy and other Mediterranean countries. The people in Maine were so friendly and uncomplicated, so unfussy and straight laced. Everyone took so much pride in decorating their little houses and making everything look pretty and festive.

I am still thinking about our time in Maine every day. One of my most favorite memories was watching our first snowfall in years, silently admiring how the little snow flakes sugarcoated the pine trees in front of our window. I usually have a very wanderlusty heart, and I could not help but falling in love with the area and feeling home and at peace there almost instantly. I am counting down the time until we can go back and I hope we can live there one day.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank my good friends Bijan Sabet and Ray Larose for meeting up and spending time during our stay in Maine. You both are wonderful friends to me and I feel very lucky to know you. Thank you for showing me around in your beautiful part of the world and introducing me to lobster rolls and blueberry pie.

All images below were taken with the Hasselblad 503CW and the Carl Zeiss Planar T* 2.8/80 on Kodak Portra 400. All images scanned and processed by Richard Photo Lab in California:

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66 Comments

  1. Rebecca Lily
    17. February 2015

    Johnny, these photographs are so stunning. I love every last one – all the wonderful wintery scenes and details and colors take me back and let me relive these happy memories over again.

    I remember watching you shoot in Maine a few times and thinking, “What on earth is he taking a picture of??”. Well, now I know. How you manage to see so much beauty in the everyday around you is really a rare gift.

    I’m so privileged to be able to walk alongside you in this life and share these moments with you, to experience the world with someone who sees so much good in it.

  2. Johnny
    17. February 2015

    Rebecca, thank you so much for your kind words and the wonderful time in New England. I can’t wait to take you back to this beautiful place.

    I could tell that you were puzzled at times! I think a lot of that has to do with you being from the United States while it was the first time shooting there for me.

    Now you see what I saw – and I’m so glad you like it. :)

  3. Sebastian Schlueter
    17. February 2015

    Johnny, this is an amazing collection of beautiful images and even if I am repeating myself the last image is ethereal and simply fantastic.

  4. Johnny
    17. February 2015

    Thanks very much, Sebastian! I’m happy you enjoyed these so much. :)

    The scene of the last image felt very unreal to me when I shot it. It was extremely cold and the winter light on the ocean was just magical. I’ve never seen something like this before.

  5. Ted
    17. February 2015

    Great photographs. The picture of the dock is truly wonderful.

    My wife and I just spent the weekend in Portland, Maine. We’re angling to move up there sometime this spring after having spent the last 4 years in San Francisco. A more deliberate pace of life is what we crave.

    You captured our sentiments on Maine wonderfully.

  6. Johnny
    17. February 2015

    Ted, thanks very much! That’s so great to hear.

    A more deliberate pace sums my experience up beautifully. As I’ve shared in my post, we would love to move there one day too. Everything felt just right.

  7. Dan Hawk
    17. February 2015

    Johnny, I love these photos and story! Sounds (and looks) like an amazing trip!

  8. Johnny
    17. February 2015

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Dan!

    Yes, definitely one of my favorite trips and locations to shoot ever. Maine has a lot to offer, even in the winter. I’m really surprised it’s not more popular.

  9. Joe Williams
    17. February 2015

    Excellent work here! I like all the pictures that you and your wife have posted of your trip to Maine.

  10. Johnny
    17. February 2015

    Thank you, Joe! That’s really great to hear.

    I love Rebecca’s pictures too, one of my favorites she has ever done. :)

  11. Scott
    17. February 2015

    Hi Johnny, thanks so much for sharing these. I live in the Northeast and have friends in Maine, and specifically Portland. It’s a great place with such good energy and people.

    I just love how your shots of things as seemingly simple as a “dry kindling” sign near an old Coke machine become art. The light is beautiful. I’m getting back into film after many years away, and shooting digital, and currently shoot 35mm on a Nikon F5. I’ve learned so much from your photos and posts. Thank you!

    I’m curious, are you usually shooting wide open at f/2.8?

  12. Johnny
    18. February 2015

    Scott, thank you very much.

    Yes, that’s exactly how it felt to me too. The whole area had a very unique vibe and the people were wonderful.

    Thank you for your kind words in regards to my pictures, I really appreciate it. It’s great to hear you’re getting back into film! I’m sure you’ll love it. :)

    Yes, I almost always shoot wide open.

  13. Michael
    18. February 2015

    The old pickup truck with the stars and stripes paint job is priceless, great find. Beautiful images Johnny, you kept the New England look really well and glad to hear that both of you had such a great time.

  14. Johnny
    18. February 2015

    I’m happy you enjoyed the pictures, Michael. That’s wonderful to hear, especially because you know the area so well. :)

    I loved the pickup truck and the post box with flames on the side! I was so happy when I found these. Thank you for your kind feedback!

  15. Vijay Panchal
    18. February 2015

    Hi Johnny, stunning images captured beautifully. Love the surrounding lakes and little houses in Maine.

    It’s an invitation to visit Maine during winter.

  16. Johnny
    18. February 2015

    Vijay, thanks so much!

    I’m glad you like the post. I am in love with the area and cannot wait to go back and see how Maine feels in the summer and in autumn.

  17. Marco
    18. February 2015

    Wonderful images and words Johnny! I have visited that area many years ago and fell in love with it right away. I’m a big city kid, but Portland, Maine looked like a small city that I could live in. And all those nice little villages heading north like Wiscasset and Camden (where I stayed) are so close by.

    It’s a very beautiful and inspiring place on earth and you captured it perfectly!

  18. Johnny
    18. February 2015

    Thank you very much, Marco. :)

    I’m really happy to hear that you enjoyed this post and I completely agree with you, the whole area is beautiful. I usually don’t like small towns very much and used to prefer remote places in nature or bigger cities. But that was different in New England, I really liked the feeling.

  19. April
    18. February 2015

    Everything is so beautiful! The tone of Portra never fails to amaze me. :)
    What a wonderful trip!

  20. Johnny
    18. February 2015

    Thank you, April!

    It truly was a wonderful trip and I’m glad you enjoyed these pictures.

  21. Simon
    18. February 2015

    These are amazing, love the colours! Do you mind me asking where in Maine you stayed? My girlfriend and I would love to visit New England one day!

  22. Johnny
    18. February 2015

    Simon, thanks very much for your kind words.

    We stayed near Rockland and mainly shot in Wiscasset, Rockland, Camden and Acadia. The national park is definitely worth a visit, you won’t be disappointed.

    Enjoy your trip!

  23. Jade Sheldon-Burnsed
    19. February 2015

    It’s so funny, but ever since the 5th grade, I’ve talked about living in Maine someday. I have no clue why. I’ve never even been! But I’ve always felt drawn to it. Seeing these beautiful images is making me realize it isn’t a foolish dream…

  24. Johnny
    19. February 2015

    Thank you so much, Jade! It’s great to hear that you enjoyed these images.

    I only ever knew about Maine through books I’ve read growing up, but I never had a very clear concept about the area or New England in general. Rebecca and I had the pleasure to visit a lot of beautiful places together, but living in Maine is a dream for us too.

  25. Constantin
    19. February 2015

    Nothing to add. :)
    Such nice captures, such lovely points of view!

  26. Johnny
    19. February 2015

    Thank you so much, Constantin! :)

  27. Giovanni
    19. February 2015

    The satisfaction for you, the pleasure for us.

  28. Johnny
    20. February 2015

    Giovanni, thank you very much! :)

  29. Jim
    20. February 2015

    Very nice photos. Your timing was great as the NE has recently been inundated with several feet of snow and record cold.

    If you get a chance on your next visit to Maine, a road trip along the coast to Acadia National Park is very beautiful. It will be more “touristy” than what you encountered on this trip though.

  30. Johnny
    21. February 2015

    Thanks very much for your kind feedback, Jim.

    Yes, you are exactly right! I have a couple of friends in the area and it seems like everyone basically got snowed in a few days after we left. I’m glad we were able to explore so much during our stay.

    Many thanks for your recommendation in regards to Acadia, I completely agree. A few of the images above were shot on the way to or in Acadia National Park. I loved it and I cannot wait to go back and experience it during a different season!

  31. Cindy
    21. February 2015

    Absolutely beautiful, Johnny. I hope you and Rebecca visit California at some point, especially San Francisco. :)

  32. Johnny
    21. February 2015

    Cindy, thanks very much for your visit and your kind words.

    We can’t wait to see California and the west coast, really. San Francisco has been on our wish list for a long time. We will hopefully be back in the States a few times this year and would love to meet you and your husband for a coffee if we happen to make it to your city. :)

  33. Mary Smyth
    21. February 2015

    Truly inspiring Johnny.

  34. Johnny
    22. February 2015

    Thanks very much, Mary! Glad to hear that!

  35. Mitch Zeissler
    22. February 2015

    Wonderful images, every last one of them.

  36. Johnny
    22. February 2015

    Mitch, thanks very much! :)

  37. Coleman
    6. March 2015

    Just stumbled across your site… wonderful! Very glad you had the opportunity to enjoy a slice of New England. You beautifully captured its simplicity. Bet you’d enjoy the summer months too, so hurry back. Cheers.

  38. Johnny
    6. March 2015

    Thanks so much, Coleman!

    I can’t wait to spend more time in Maine. I hope to be back soon, hopefully for the summer this year. :)

  39. Jason Howe
    8. March 2015

    Hey Johnny, really enjoyed the post and images.

    The initial exchange between yourself and Rebecca really serves as a pertinent reminder that familiarity with ones surroundings can blind us at times.

    All the best, Jason.

  40. Johnny
    8. March 2015

    That’s wonderful to hear, Jason. Thank you very much!

    You are absolutely right and I agree. I think it’s incredibly difficult to see pictures in an environment you’re used to. That’s what I love most about traveling and discovering new places, it’s so inspiring to explore and see something for the first time. It never feels quite the same after that.

  41. Alvah Reida
    8. March 2015

    Hi Johnny!

    I’ve enjoyed your blog for a few years and I was pleasantly surprised to see that you traveled to my area! I’m a wedding/portrait photographer in southern New Hampshire and I work all around New England.

    It’s interesting to see your take on the New England scenery because I grew up here and take it for granted most of the time. Your photography is fantastic and one of the reasons I’ve been experimenting with film in recent years.

    Best of luck in your future travels!

  42. Johnny
    9. March 2015

    Alvah, thank you so much. :)

    I’m very happy to hear you enjoyed this post, especially if you live in the area. It’s wonderful to hear that you are enjoying shooting film too. We hope to be back in the summer, maybe we can meet up for a coffee at some point.

    Thanks again for your kind feedback!

  43. Peter
    9. March 2015

    Beautiful! How did you find the place? Did you use an online service?

  44. Johnny
    11. March 2015

    Thank you, Peter! Yes, we usually use an online service to book accommodation.

  45. Marc
    14. March 2015

    Morning Johnny,

    Well we were mailing when you where in Maine and I just checked out your blog today. Congrats my friend these pics are S T U N N I N G (as always)! Love them.

    And when you are traveling one day to SoCal… shoot a mail so I can pay you a nice cup of tea – coffee or whatever. ;-)

    Have a nice weekend,

    Marc

  46. Johnny
    16. March 2015

    Marc, thanks very much for your kind words.

    It’s wonderful to hear that you enjoyed these pictures. We were just back in the US and spent some time in San Francisco and Los Angeles too. You live in a very beautiful place!

    Sadly we had very limited time in California and a lot of commitments. But we’ll hopefully be back soon and I would love to meet up for a coffee if you like. :)

    I hope you’re enjoying your Rolleiflex!

  47. Ashleigh
    17. April 2015

    Johnny, I love these photographs of Maine. My family has traveled up there every summer for 19 years & it has a special place in my heart. I’ve always wanted to experience Maine in the winter – thank you for allowing that to happen vicariously. Where in Maine were you visiting?

    Also, thank you for your film metering post – it’s been helpful!

    All the best to you.

  48. Johnny
    18. April 2015

    Ashleigh, thank you so much.

    I’m really happy that you enjoyed my photographs. I’ve never visited Maine in the summer but I cannot wait to do so. It’s a very special place as you said.

    We stayed near Rockland and mainly shot in Wiscasset, Rockland, Camden and Acadia National Park. I cannot wait to go back. :)

  49. Fabian
    19. April 2015

    Truly beautiful photos (and story). I just discovered your blog a few days back, I really like it. Great job!

  50. Johnny
    19. April 2015

    Thanks very much, Fabian. That’s wonderful to hear!

  51. Dave
    25. April 2015

    Nice clean site with cool content, Johnny.

    I can’t wait to get out with my own newly acquired Blad 500C/M on Monday. I dare say I will make a few mistakes!

  52. Johnny
    26. April 2015

    Thank you, Dave. Glad you like it!

    Enjoy your new camera! Making mistakes is part of the fun. :)

  53. Victor
    12. October 2015

    Incredibly beautiful and interesting photos about the winter season in a very interesting place. Love your light and airy shots. But I like even more that they were captured on film. I am trying to learn this too. But unfortunately not succeeding so far.

  54. Johnny
    12. October 2015

    Victor, thanks very much! :)

    Please feel free to have a look at my tutorials, I share a lot of information and personal experience about film photography on this blog.

  55. Jason de Plater
    13. October 2015

    I love these photos so much, I had to revisit them. I appreciate the calmness and how you have romanticised a place that appears to be frozen in time.

  56. Johnny
    13. October 2015

    Thank you very much, Jason. That makes me very happy.

    I hope you’ll come visit once we live in Maine! :)

  57. John Kim
    4. November 2015

    Johnny,

    I can’t stress how excited I am for you and Rebecca to be Maine citizens! Welcome again!!

    And, as always, love your images!

  58. Johnny
    5. November 2015

    Thanks you, John! I really appreciate it so much.

    We’re really so excited to be here! :)

  59. Ivo Scholz
    29. November 2015

    Johnny,

    Although I’m not a film photographer, I want to look my photos to look like film. Like yours! So beautiful and so timeless! I’m stunned to have you as an inspiration. Thanks so much!

    By the way, your curation of pictures is top-notch.

    Cheers,

    Ivo

  60. Johnny
    29. November 2015

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Ivo. I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed this post! Maybe you’d like to try shooting film some day. :)

  61. Mark Isaacson
    6. January 2016

    Great shots and eye in capturing the small details in everyday life!

    I have recently got back into film after 20 years and have a question for you. How you you manage to get your images so tack sharp at the end of the day? Are you carrying a small tripod or all handheld? Do you push your film a few stops to raise the f-stop? Or do you just shoot with faster ISO film like 800?

  62. Johnny
    8. January 2016

    Mark, thanks for your kind feedback.

    I don’t own a tripod, I shoot everything handheld. I shoot Portra 400 and I don’t push my color film. The lowest shutter speed I shoot with the Hasselblad would be 1/60, which you can do without camera shake if you’re careful. Portra 400 has a lot of latitude which helps if you’re shooting on the verge of underexposure with available light.

  63. Susan Metzger
    31. July 2016

    WOW!!! I live in the midcoast of Maine and just found your blog… just lovely. I have future dreams of owning a Hassie… thanks for the beauty!

  64. Johnny
    31. July 2016

    Thank you so much, Susan! I really appreciate your kind feedback. Glad you enjoyed the post!

    I can only encourage you to buy a Hasselblad. It’s my favorite camera ever made and it’s so much fun to shoot. I’m sure you would like it too. :)

  65. Susan Metzger
    31. July 2016

    Curious, since this is not a current post – did you end up moving to Maine?

  66. Johnny
    31. July 2016

    Yes, we did at the end of last year! :)

    We live in Tenants Harbor now and love it here. We couldn’t be happier anywhere else.

    I just had a look at your beautiful work and saw that you’re shooting film (and Leica) too! I also think I saw your paintings before. If you ever feel like meeting up for coffee with Rebecca and me, just let me know.

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