Carlos Montoya, owner of Native Plant Associates, is dedicated to restoring sandplain grasslands on the Vineyard. The central component of this natural terrain is little bluestem grasses, but he also uses other native plants such as lowbush blueberry, winterberry, and asters.
I was hired by Carlos to photograph sandplain grasslands for a brochure he was having designed by the local design firm Kolodny & Rentschler. Some of the sandplain grasslands that I photographed were naturally occuring while others Carlos had restored, or even created from scratch, for various clients who were interested in preserving natural habitats on the Vineyard.
The photos of the overall vistas took me to some of the most unique properties and breathtaking views I’d ever seen on the Vineyard, including one at Squibnocket and another at Pohogonot. But the highlight of the shoot was an overnight excursion to Nantucket, together with Carlos and art director Mary Rentschler. We arrived in the afternoon and did some scouting, but the light was drab and did not lend itself to much in the way of photos. We headed to bed early and hoped for better light in the morning. Happily, we were not disappointed. There was a deep chill in the air on that frosty and windless fall morning when we convened for coffee at 4am, and made our way to the grasslands. Over the course of the next hour the light went from a slight glow on the horizon, to an intense magenta color at dawn, to a deep orange when the sun first emerged over the horizon. The terrain of primarily little bluestem was as vast as I’d ever seen, a broad and flat tapestry spread out before us, with glimpses of the ocean in the distance.
The final product that came from this commission was a beautifully designed and printed brochure. It also marked the beginning of an ongoing relationship with Carlos as I continued to photograph his work for various publications including Cape and Islands Home and Martha’s Vineyard Magazine.