Photographer Feature: Dave Norton (@drnorton)

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Once a week, we interview one of our Patrons or a photographer from our Slack community on!

We hope that you learn a new spot or new camera setup!


Who are you, and where in New Jersey are you from?

My name is Dave Norton (@drnorton) and I live in Flemington (oh yeah also @historicflemington). I am originally from northern Virginia. Down there we would actually capitalize the N in northern as if it were a proper geographic region unto itself, but it’s not. It’s just south of DC and not near the mountains or the farms or the shore. 

I started on a Nikon SLR in the mid-nineties and took photos of what me and my degenerate friends were doing, which was rollerblading and hanging out in silly places like empty parking lots and abandoned buildings. I no longer take photos of rollerbladers. But empty parking lots and abandoned buildings, sure, if I’m in the right mood.
I mostly like to explore backroads in Hunterdon County without much of an agenda. I’m slowly getting to know many of the back-backroads and am fond of trying to sync up a certain shot I’ve had in mind if weather conditions look like they might add a fun twist to the composition.
I am currently teaching introductory group photography courses here in Flemington and run both a portrait and commercial photography business. I am looking into expanding into 1-on-1 instruction this year. Reach out if you’re in the area and looking to expand your skill set!

What are the three best spots for photography in New Jersey, and why?

1. The Red Mill, Clinton, NJ: Iconic western Jersey location situated literally downtown so you can grab a coffee beforehand or a bite to eat after shooting it. Bring waders, a sturdy tripod and some neutral density filters if you want to get a little wet and make a long exposure from the water. Or bring your drone if you want to do the exact opposite.

Want to visit Clinton? Check out our guide.

2. Back roads of Hunterdon County: Since this makes up approximately 81% of my feed from the last two years, I have to give a very vague shout out to the asphalt that guides me to mostly unplanned, spur of the moment, “oh snap look at that” type photos, which is my absolute favorite type of photography subgenre to engage in. It’s almost like a sport at that point.

The rules: don’t go somewhere specific to set up a shot of a specific thing. It’s like a rural version of street photography — the kind where you’re looking for strange synchronicities or abnormal scenes in a setting that is otherwise just, the side of the road.

3. New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, Readington, NJ: I really hope this goes off this year as it’s my absolute favorite event to photograph and it’s only eight miles up the road from my home. You can go “backstage” if you have a camera on the morning the festival opens up. You don’t even have to sign up! Just show up at the right time (6:30am) and park in the right spot. A good suggestion is visiting their website and plan ahead. I would highly recommend it to anyone who can make it work. It’s a gas! I’m not blowing hot air!


What's your camera setup?

Nikon Z6
35mm f/1.4
50mm f/1.8
85mm f/1.8
24-70mm f/4
17-35 f/4
24mm f/2.8
Godox AD200 flash
Paul C Buff DigiBee 400 studio flash
Manfrotto tripod
Sirui ball head

What's your dream piece of gear? Think big!

A whole Broncolor lighting system: flashes, continuous lighting, and a para 222 reflector kit.

What's one bucket list photo of New Jersey you haven't gotten yet?

So many… Cape May is probably the one I’d like to see the most. the shore, the old houses, crazy birds during the right time of the year. There are a variety of sights here.

Check out our guides to seeing Cape May in the off-season (or the in-season).

One tip for aspiring photographers?

Look at photos. Consciously determine why you like them. Try to figure out what that photographer did to create those types of photos. Get out there and try it yourself. Repeat. Endlessly. Your own sense of photographic style/identity will emerge with enough hard work and relentless practice. No one is good with a camera right out of the gates.

What's your favorite part of being a photographer?

That "eureka" moment when you have found a shot but haven't taken it yet. It's like the best high of all. You're looking at something that makes you gasp in awe. You know you're going to be able to capture it and edit it in a way that you like and that you think will convey that feeling to everyone else who views it, but you haven't actually taken the shot yet. A pure state of flow, unadulterated by the clicking of the shutter. And then when you click and nail it. EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY. Fireworks. In your brain.

“Photographer Feature” is an ongoing segment featuring our Patrons and Slack community members. Contact editor Abbey Dufoe for more information.

NJspots is a growing community. By sharing you can help.

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