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Sunday, August 29, 2004


Photographic Curiosity

Annapolis, Parakalo!I had just hung twelve of my photos in the City Dock Cafe on Maryland Avenue in Annapolis. Now it was time to walk back to the car, parked a few blocks away, and head home.

The way back led me around State Circle, the colonial-era road ringing the State House, and past Number 88, the Janet Leland Hoffman Building. I had admired this fish-scale-shingled house many times before and even taken a few less-than-exciting photos. This time, I had a little more reach with my new 70-300mm zoom. And this time, I was very satisfied with the image, above, all angles and corners and fish scales.

But the point of this post is not so much the photographic image itself, but what happened in its aftermath.

I got curious.

When was this building built? What is its history? And just who is Janet Leland Hoffman, anyway?

I'm finding that this happens a lot to me lately - my photography is inspiring curiosity about those subjects about which I know little. Look at how I became an expert on the sex life of the seventeen-year Cicada. And this curiosity is easy to satisfy nowadays, since we have the Internet and Google.

So I Googled "Janet Leland Hoffman State Circle", and found that the building now houses the Baltimore City Liason Office, which looks out for the city's interests in the state legislature. Ms. Hoffman was Baltmore's chief lobbyist for over 30 years.

As I looked into the history of this beautiful Civil-War-era house, I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of my local photographic heros, Marion E. Warren, located his studio here from 1959 to 1962 (see http://www.annapolisbooks.com/MeWarren/ )

Now, I've lived about six miles from State Circle (which is the very center of Annapolis) for over eighteen years, and I can tell you I didn't know (or care) squat about any of these old houses in all that time. Then I put camera to eye and suddenly I'm halfway to being qualified to lead walking tours here.


What a beautiful photo Steve! And I now fully understand what you mean about photography inspiring curiosity (and vice versa too). When I stare a little at a photo I've just taken then suddenly I want to know more about the subject. And as you say it's pretty easy to do that these days.

Photography and curiosity seem to go hand in hand, don't they?

Prairie Girl
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