Navy spouse Shannon Hammond swoons over the quaint charm of New England’s cobblestone streets and clapboard architecture. Her travel and architectural photography, capturing everything from dramatic rocky coasts to 100-year-old covered bridges and 18th-century houses, has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Yankee Magazine, and Tiny Atlas Quarterly.
Hammond is based in Newport, R.I., where her Navy husband, Josh, serves as a military professor at the Naval War College (NWC). She says the whole family loves this duty station and exploring New England, the northeast corner of the country comprised of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
“There is a classic charm to New England that I don’t think you really get anywhere else in the United States. The history runs so deep, being one of the oldest parts of America,” Hammond said.
Hammond first picked up photography as a newlywed while living in Naples, Italy. Since then, she says that their family has been very fortunate to live in interesting and aesthetically pleasing duty stations in the United Kingdom and San Diego, California. before returning to Rhode Island for a second time. “Newport has always held a special place in our hearts,” she said. Her daughter Jane was born here when her husband was a student attending NWC seven years ago.
“I consider myself a place-based photographer. A lot of that comes from our military lifestyle . . . the Navy has taken us to some really interesting and beautiful places. And that’s always been my source of inspiration,” she said.
While stationed in the United Kingdom, Hammond started an Instagram account as a way to showcase her print photography and capture life abroad while living in a small English village. Since that time, she’s maintained a group of online followers, she said, that appreciates the different locations the family has lived and visited. To date her account has more than 33,000 followers.
According to Hammond, one of the great things about their current duty station is that most of New England is easily accessible. She finds herself drawn to the coast, which makes up a huge part of life and commerce in the region, including the local food and fishing industries.
“You can cover a lot of ground in a day or weekend trip. That’s one of the things that drew us to the area. And one of the things we’ve tried to do while we are here is to take advantage of all of the great locations within an easy driving distance.
“From an architecture perspective, I just find the houses and buildings and the way that the cities are structured to be really inspiring and reminiscent of the time that we did spend in the U.K.,” she said.
Hammond says living in such a picturesque area allows her to often stumble upon character. “There are just places that make me happy to walk the streets,” she said. “When I’m doing that, I know I am going to find inspiration just wandering and admiring the old homes and architecture.”
Visiting New England? In addition to Newport, here are Hammond’s top three recommendations:
- Woodstock, Vt.: From the charming town to the quaint shops and restaurants, Hammond says that Woodstock is bursting with quintessential New England character. You can find rural heritage, tranquil beauty, local farmers, artists, and craftspeople in this small-town community.
- Portsmouth, N.H.: Settled in the 1600s, The National Trust for Historic Preservation calls this city “one of the most culturally rich destinations in the country.” For Hammond, Portsmouth has the benefits of city life without being a big city. “It feels like a small coastal village,” she said, noting the cafés, waterfront restaurants, and boutiques.
- Kennebunkport, Maine: One of Maine’s most popular summer getaways, the town has tranquil beaches, a family-friendly atmosphere, and a laid-back vibe. While visiting, you may even catch of glimpse of Walker’s Point Estate, which belongs to the Bush family and served as the Summer White House for the late President George H.W. Bush. For Hammond, Kennebunkport is the “picture of classic coastal New England.”
To get inspiration for a trip to New England, visit Hammond at photosbyshannon.