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Photographing Americana

Updated on January 10, 2017
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years. | Source
CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source
CC0 Public Domain
CC0 Public Domain | Source | Source | Source

There are some photography articles and projects that focus on capturing the life style of a community, a town a city or a rural part of a country.

These can prove to be very worthwhile projects since they can give most anyone an essence of what it is to live in the part of the country or region or even tell the history of a country though the eyes of the artists.

A photography project telling the story of the United States for example, would be easily classified as Americana.

"Americana refers to artifacts, or a collection of artifacts, related to the history, geography, folklore and cultural heritage of the United States. Many kinds of material fall within the definition of Americana: paintings, prints and drawings; license plates or entire vehicles, household objects, tools and weapons; flags, plaques and statues, and so on. Patriotism and nostalgia play a defining role in the subject. The things involved need not be old, but need to have the appropriate associations. The term may be used to describe the theme of a museum or collection, or of goods for sale.

The term can be used to describe studies of American culture - especially studies based in other countries. Americana music is contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound." wikipedia

To conduct the project through its natural progression one must take photos of many parts of the country and not just of one particular town or even a large city. The photographs must show slices of the country as a whole and they do not have to be images of simple subjects they can basically be a mixture of many aspects of life so long as they can be identified as being part of the United States as in this case.

Needless to say, the project is likely going to take a while to complete since traveling to different parts is a must and this not only takes time but money also. However, if your part of the world is not as large as a country like the US, then the project may be completed in as little as three to four days depending on the amount of photographs the photographer deems necessary to catch a good compilation of suitable images that when brought together tells the story.

The subjects that would make the project up do not have to be restricted to only people, cities and so n on. The best situation would be to capture images of art work, sporting events, cars, city scenes, food, the many nationalities and even collectibles.

If the location is peculiarly noteworthy for a specific lifestyle or landmark or even an aspect of its culture then these elements must also be included in the shoot.

For example The United States is known for its big cities, its love of sports and fast cars as well as for its preoccupation with the right to own a gun. All of these by elements lend themselves quite well for having portions of each incorporated into the photo project as photographic piece.

Once you are done , it would be a good technique to show the collection of images to a test audience and ask them what they mean as a whole to them. If they can clearly identify the photographs as belonging to the country he photographer has chosen, then the project itself is a success.

The best source of ideas is to conduct some research into American history ,in this case, and go from there. Seek out cultural differences and good subjects in your hometown first and plan you r destinations with time taking into consideration the traveling, accommodations as well as the time that each location will require in order to be fully explored.

Contacting the local chamber of commerce or tourism board in each location can be a source of invaluable resources and should be consulted.

The finished project is very suitable to be used in a book productions, for many historical and art publications, greeting cards and fine art galleries.

Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) | Source

More ideas to enhance your experience

© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      GusTheRedneck: had me going at first, thanks

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 4 years ago from USA

      Hello Luis (LuisEGonzalez) -

      Very few times it is that an article can make me angry ! This one did that. I got really ticked off that I had not, myself, constructed it with the great writing and illustration like this article received from you.

      Great stuff, thoroughly and wonderfully done. Good work.

      Gus :-)))