FIRST LIGHT: CAPE COD OYSTERMEN

First Light: Cape Cod Oystermen is an ongoing photo essay in my own backyard: Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA. It’s aim is to capture what the light out here on “the Cape” might “feel” like. And, what better way than from the perspective of our famous oystermen: Often families; or, at the very least, a family affair. But, the essay is “open”: I’m not going for pure documentary or literal photojournalism; it just doesn’t feel right here. Instead, the essay, and the feeling of its progression, will be an open window into how working and living in this light might feel.

My aim is to use as a metaphor for Cape Cod light our oystermen (and women!). In other words, the oyster farmers are the lens through which I will explore light (and life) out here on the Cape. Light in their eyes. Life through them. And a bit of fiction! Just as Cape Cod light is both warm and harsh, to be a commercial oyster farmer, one must be warm, charming, but also harsh, determined. So too with the tide; as the light comes and goes, the tide does, too. An oysterman’s life is a life wedded to the light and the tide, the Sun and the Moon.

I plan to finish this essay, a work in progress, in 2019 (I will publish here just a few of the pictures). I am continuing to deepen my access to these peoples’ work, their lives, Cape Cod light from their perspective. For, to be able to understand and depict this vision, this metaphor (Cape Cod light as viewed from Cape Cod oyster farmers) I must be alongside them. I guess that makes me an amateur oyster farmer now. It is through this metaphor or, at the very least, this idea of how to “interpret” geographic light, that I hope to push the common, objective, or closed photographic essay. Going outside the box. Yes, a mix of black and white and color. But, more than that, my goal is to edit together pictures that are intentional from a particular perspective; I want these pictures to tell you, to compel you, to feel what it is like to work in and live in Cape Cod light. Stories that force you to feel man’s relationship between his work, his life, his existence, and nature; to feel alive.

Depending on available funds (i.e. whether people purchase my work), I would like to publish this work in a tight hardcover book. It is in this work that I hope to develop and hone my photographic vision and passion as it relates to our relationship with nature: lives outdoors; the joy of being outside; the realities, whether beautiful or cruel and rough, of the toils of man. Publishing in tangible form this work will enable me to further explore, from my point of view, and through my interpretation, this important dynamic.