Archive for the ‘posts by Alison’ Category

Join us on Saturday: Book launch, and P A R T Y

I JUST DUSTED OFF some old binders of medium-format transparencies, did a little digging, made a few calculations, and realized I’ve been photographing the work of stonemason Lew French for nearly 25 years. Wow, talk about time flying. In the course of those 25 years Lew and I have spent countless hours together, traveled many thousands of miles to photograph his work, completed two book projects, and he even built a wonderful beach stone fireplace in our old Farm Pond house.

I’m proud to announce the launch of our second book together, Sticks and Stones, at our gallery this Saturday, August 65:00-7:00pm. Lew and I will be there to meet you and sign books.

Our first book together, Stone by Design, was published in 2007. Every single photo was shot on Martha’s Vineyard, where Lew had created all of his master stonework and gardens. Nearly 35,000 copies sold, and the book really put him on the map as not just a craftsman, but as an artist. CBS Sunday Morning did a fabulous segment about Lew, he’s been piling up awards and honors for his work, and he now has fans all over the world.

As a result, Lew’s not just a Martha’s Vineyard stonemason anymore. His well-deserved reputation has far exceeded the shores of the Island. So the stonework that graces the pages of Sticks and Stones took us to places like Brazil, the Adirondacks, Maine, Washington DC, Cape Cod and Boston.

My most memorable trip for this book was, without a doubt, my trip to Brazil in January 2015. I left the Island in near-zero temperatures, and photographed “sea smoke” on the ferry trip across Vineyard Sound  (caused by frigid air meeting slightly warmer water). You might need to “like” my Facebook page to see the video below:

Sue captured Alison’s adventure shooting “sea smoke” in frigid weather, on her way to Brazil in January 2015. There’s even an appearance by Chris Morse, owner of the Granary Gallery, who took some photos of his own.

When I got to Brazil 24 hours later… well… let’s just say that Brazil in January is hotter than anything we can even imagine here on the island. After picking up provisions from a market in a remote small village, we headed many miles up into the mountains on a deeply-rutted, tortuously-bumpy red dirt road. We finally arrived at Lew’s home, nestled in a valley, at the base of thousands of acres of Brazilian rainforest. Lew built the home he shares with wife Claudia, and has created stunning stonework and lush gardens on their property.
 

Alison shot this video with her iPhone in January 2015, in Brazil, where she took photos of Lew and Claudia’s house for Sticks & Stones

The next four days were spent rising early and pretty much devoting the entire day to photography. I worked hard to capture the wild and dramatic setting of the house, the massive interior stone wall and fireplace, the many unique features of the home (including his own version of the traditional stucco and stone wood-fired cookstove), and even furnishings which Lew crafted of wood and stone.

In whatever down-time we had, it was much too oppressively hot to hike up the mountains and into the rainforest, but it was just the right temperature for an occasional shower beneath the waterfall on Lew’s property. We ate fruit I’ve never even heard of before, from some of the thousands of fruit trees Lew planted on the land. Geckos and other critters skittered through the house in search of a cool place to hang out. Wild horses ran in the distance, and monkeys chattered at dusk, far up in the mountains. At night I was grateful for the mosquito netting that surrounded my bed. “No, Alison, you’re not on Martha’s Vineyard anymore….”

Five days later (far too soon) I did the whole trip in reverse. It was a heck of a lot easier getting down the mountain that it had been going up. That is, it was easier until I got back to the winter temperatures I’d left less than a week before. That transition was a little rough, I must admit.

Please join us this Saturday for our book signing, and to celebrate our 10th anniversary season of Alison Shaw Gallery. Sue and I are very blessed to own this gallery together, and we want to share our celebration with you.

Behind the shot: A stormy winter

Eastville 2013

THIS WINTER WAS FANTASTIC for photographing storms on the Vineyard. Anytime there’s a storm in the forecast, everything in my life comes to a screeching halt so I can focus on shooting. Once the storm is close to its peak, I leave my cozy home and happily head out into the elements, telling my family I’ll be back once the storm subsides or the sun goes down. The ones I particularly enjoyed shooting were Hurricane Sandy in late October, which was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached us but nonetheless packed a powerful punch; winter storm Nemo in early February; and a March nor’easter. Sandy, in particular, was quite exciting, because there were really humongous waves and powerful winds, and it actually rearranged some of the shoreline of the Vineyard. I noticed this most dramatically at Lucy Vincent Beach, where the waves literally scoured all the sand off the beach, leaving rugged clay and stone exposed underneath. As it turned out, it wasn’t just the day of Sandy that was exciting – I continued to visit Lucy Vincent a couple times a week for several weeks. Each time it was different, often dramatically so. The big cliff at the end was weakened by the storm, and kept changing with the tides, until it finally collapsed into the sea.

Read More…

Building a whaleboat

I’M CLOSE TO COMPLETING a new project chronicling the construction of a whaleboat for the Charles W. Morgan, America’s last surviving wooden whaleship, at Gannon and Benjamin Boat Yard in Vineyard Haven. This past December I happened to wander into the boatshed on the harbor, and casually asked what they were working on. When Nat Benjamin said “a whaleboat,” I could hardly believe my ears. A whaleboat?

Read More…

September workshop on Martha’s Vineyard

I JUST FINISHED TEACHING my September workshop (otherwise known as “photo boot camp”) on the Vineyard. It was a great and talented group of sixteen students, my trusty assistant Donna Foster, and our “shadow” Jonathan Hart, a Vermont-based photographer who spent the week observing.

DAY 1, Sunday:
7pm: Meet-and-greet session at the Mansion House, fueled by Chilmark Chocolates and red wine. Jen Sayre broke her own record for the most Alison Shaw MV workshops – she’s taken six workshops with me on the island since 2003. She gets re-inspired each time, and we love having her.

Read More…

Behind the shot: The “swimmer” series

I’VE BEEN WORKING ON A NEW SERIES of photos of “Swimmers” at our local indoor pool. Truthfully, it started out as something I could do to pass the time while my daughter Sarah swam with the swim team each week, while I, otherwise known as “Mom’s taxi service,” waited until it was time to transport her back home.
It wasn’t long before the snapshots I thought of as entertainment turned into work I really cared about, as I filled up at least one memory card each Thursday afternoon, and headed back to my studio to download the images and tweak them a little in Lightroom.

Read More…

An artist residency

My son Jesse, 6, walking up from the shack

IN THE FALL of 2005, I spent two weeks as an “artist in residence” at a primitive shack in the Cape Cod dunes.

Read my account of the experience for Yankee Magazine here.