Shut the Front Door: A Local Instagrammer is Documenting the Doors of Camberville

doors of cambervilleJust a handful of the photos Christine Engels has shot for the @doorsofcamberville Instagram.

Christine Engels has always loved walking.

On a typical Saturday or Sunday afternoon, you can find her with a book stowed away in her backpack as she takes a long, meandering route to Three Little Figs, strolling through neighborhoods she hasn’t been in before. On weekdays, her walks take her from her home between Union and Inman Square to Davis, where she works.

“I’m always sort of looking around. I don’t know, I think I’m distracted easily,” Engels says. “I’m always noticing things like the way the paint has weathered on the side of a building, or the way that ivy creeps and crawls across a brick wall.”

At the end of last summer, her wandering feet and wandering eyes led her to create an Instagram, @doorsofcamberville, where she documents her favorite part of these walks: the eye-catching entrances and exits of Cambridge and Somerville.

Engels doesn’t have any photography training; “I’m just an amateur with a smartphone,” she jokes. But the more she walked, the more she realized how interesting the area’s architecture is. She started taking pictures of walls and buildings that interested her, and when she looked over her shots, she began to notice that her favorites were always of doors and garages. Soon, the doors became the first thing she saw on her walks, and eventually, they almost became the purpose of her neighborhood strolls.

The Doors of Camberville Instagram bio simply reads, “hi i like doors,” which is not an oversimplification. “There’s so many cool ones around here!” Engels gushes. “There’s so many cool colors and styles.” She finds herself drawn to green and blue doors, or to old-school brick houses that contrast against their bright, colorful entrances. She’s interested in the “lovely” old homes around Cambridge that have vegetation creeping around their front porches and walkways. And she knows that her interests are pretty particular—”I try to not be, like, weird when I’m taking pictures,” she laughs. “I’ve only been asked what I was doing once.”

Engels has learned she isn’t the only one fascinated by doorways. Some of her followers are personal friends, but many are people she doesn’t know, people who live in the area who she’ll probably never meet. The folks who run the social media accounts of local businesses like Trina’s Starlite Lounge and the Kirkland Tap & Trotter are fans.

She’s even found a global community of Instagram users who are photographing doors in other cities—many of whom follow her back. There’s a photographer doing the same thing in Venice and another in Azerbaijan, and she follows non-location-specific accounts like @thatsagooddoor and @thedoordork. (“I’m always so jealous of the ones in Spain and Greece,” she says. “I feel like everywhere they go, there’s just beautiful doors.”)

There are lots of neighborhoods that Engels hasn’t yet had a chance to explore—especially in Cambridge. As the weather warms and the days lengthen, she’ll finally have good shooting conditions on her walks home from work. But she isn’t scheduling out her strolls either, preferring instead to see where her feet take her, and to learn, as she walks, what interesting entrances line the way.  

For Engels, that’s part of the fun of shooting these photographs. They’re beautiful, sure, but they also have a sort of mystery and randomness to them. She doesn’t know the people who own these homes—she just likes their doors.  

“That’s the cool thing to me, is not knowing anything about the life inside of the house,” she says. “All I get from it is the outside appearance from the door. There’s so many possibilities of what could be within.”