This past Thursday a client sent me to Hartford to direct the filming of some interviews for a public relations campaign that’s in development for their organization. I had never been to Hartford, except for the multiple times I’ve passed through it while going to Boston and Maine. Most of what I knew was either the view of the downtown skyline from the highway that runs through the city (which I think might be the Wilbur Cross Highway as it connects to I-91, but since I don’t drive I didn’t pay much attention to the system in and around the Hartford area), or most recently the view from Union Station (both bus and train sections) while on brief stops to pick up and drop off passengers. I was hesitant on taking pictures and video when I got to walking around downtown, because Hartford, after all, is a state capitol and for some reason or another I expect security, police and other such people to jump all over me the second I laid a tripod down or pulled the camera out too close to an office building, as happens in NYC from time to time and LA even more frequently.
As it turned out, I was greeted by very friendly people, regardless of where I went. Not only in downtown Hartford, but also when I ventured across the Founder’s Bridge to East Hartford. One security guard even suggested angles (as I suspect he was an amateur photographer, since he was inquiring about my lens gear). Other passers would say things like “it’s a great day for it”, regarding my constant picture taking and when I laid my tripod down near the Corning Fountain in Bushnell Park – which happens to be laid out just north of the Connecticut State Capitol building- the reception from the passers were smiles and that of general positive interest. I have not been to a town or city, in a long time, where this was the case. Even my most recent visit to my hometown of Portland, Maine was a little weird, since my videography in the Old Port was met with disdain from a local business owner – for no other reason that they were angry that they couldn’t “proof” my photos to ensure that she hadn’t been “featured” in any of the imagery I had produced.
Film, video and photography aside, the people were nice on a general level. There wasn’t an air of snobbery among any of the folks I encountered. When I went to breakfast, the service at the diner I went to was impeccable and even the residents of the city who aren’t so well off were seemingly happy. When I visited the Traveler’s Tower to inquire about the observation deck I had read about on the internet, the security guard informed me that all visits had to be scheduled ahead of time. He seemed genuinely sad that a visitor, in town for the day, couldn’t catch the view and suggested other spots to take pictures. Perhaps if a client sends me to Hartford again, I’ll schedule some time atop Traveler’s Tower – and post some of the bird’s eye views on this blog.
I do not know the everyday happenings that go on or the general quality of life in Hartford but I do know that for one day as a visitor, I felt welcomed as an artist and tourist. I did not make it apparent that I was a visitor, for all anyone knew I could have been a local artist out taking images of my own town – ‘nor did I engage anyone in conversation. Everyone I spoke with always made the first move. You have to understand that I live and function in this capacity, in a city where security, police and civilians are all interested in sabotaging production (big and small and in their own various kinds of ways). Not to mention many of the people who outright engage you generally have alterior motives – they’re up to something, usually finding a mechanism to get you to “loan them” some “change”. I did not get that vibe in Hartford and I appreciate the experience that I had. Perhaps some day I’ll return and make one of my movies there, provided it remains the film friendly city I currently perceive it to be.
You can view some of my still photography from Hartford at my Flickr Set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/norcrossmedia/sets/72157631546120619/