Archive for the ‘posts by Alison’ Category

SHORELINE: Around the Island of Martha’s Vineyard

StonewallBeach2017

 

by Alison Shaw (and Sue Dawson)

HAVING MARTHA’S VINEYARD as my primary subject matter for more than 40 years certainly comes with many rewards, but also with its share of challenges. In the years that I’ve spent photographing these 100 square miles, I’ve constantly had to push myself to see the island anew. And sometimes I struggle to maintain my inspiration, creativity, momentum, and stamina, to keep shooting the same place for so long. If I lived in “America” I could simply go to the next town in search of new subject matter. Actually, I do go off-island to re-energize and shoot in other locations, and it does help. But I still have my one heart- and soul-touching muse – my island home.

So when I need to re-group, I remember one of my favorite quotes, from Marcel Proust: “The true voyage of discovery lies not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” It’s not about finding a new environment, as fun and adventurous as that can be. It’s about finding something within myself.  

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

by Alison Shaw

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:

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Behind the shot: A stormy winter

by Alison Shaw

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.

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Building a whaleboat

by Alison Shaw

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?

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September workshop on Martha’s Vineyard

by Alison Shaw

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.

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Behind the shot: The “swimmer” series

by Alison Shaw

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.

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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.