Last March I had a freelance photography assignment in Gloucester, MA. When I was done, I headed up the coast to take some shots of the waves crashing on rocky shore, windswept beaches, and the beautiful homes in the area. I drove to Rockport because I wanted to get some shots of Motif #1—the “most often-painted building in America,” according to Wikipedia.
I’d know it when I saw it, I’d thought--a red fishing shack built in the 1840s, the subject of so many paintings from the artist’s colony in Rockport that painter Lester Hornby dubbed it Motif #1.
But, like overlooking a celebrity walking the dog without her hair and makeup done, I dismissed the old fishing shack I saw as a second rate look alike. That faded, old thing? Couldn't be. Where, oh, where was the real Motif #1?
Recently I had my chance to look for the shack again when a group of photographers met to shoot some winter pix along the rocky North Shore coast. Rockport was on the agenda. And what do you know? The "faded, old thing” I’d dismissed last year turned out to be Motif #1-–a celebrity sans makeup. Or not without makeup, actually. It turns out that the paint used to maintain the shack is formulated to look weather beaten even when freshly painted.
Our expectations play such a role in what we see ... or think we see ... and what we dismiss as "that faded, old thing."