Black Dog Tall Ships
The project of photographing the Black Dog Tall Ships began with a week spent on the topsail schooner Shenandoah, with my daughter Sarah and her fifth grade class from the Oak Bluffs School. I essentially hitched a ride, with the intention of chronicling the trip and possibly turning it into the basis for a childrens’ book. While the book ultimately didn’t happen, my images appeared in a feature story in Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, are now part of the Black Dog Tall Ships archive of stock images, and several of the photos may appear on the covers of an upcoming trilogy of books.
In the case of this particular commission, no money changed hands. I was thrilled to go on the trip and have free rein to photograph. In exchange I gave the Black Dog rights to use the photos for purposes of publicity or marketing. It was a win-win agreement. For me it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live aboard a tall ship (I lucked out with the first mate’s on-deck bunk house as my accommodations), and to chronicle life aboard the ship. Several years later I had the chance to do the week-long trip all over again, with the same arrangement (and same accommodations!), this time with my son Jesse.
The main challenge I encountered during my two weeks on the Shenandoah was the limited amount of distance I could get from my subject. Since my vantage point was almost exclusively from on-board the boat, it was difficult to get far enough away from things to really capture the scene. To complete the story, I needed the perspective of photographing Shenandoah from afar. Not long after the second trip I got a call from Captain Morgan Douglas, manager of the Black Dog Tall Ships, inviting me out on his power boat to photograph the Shenandoah and the schooner Alabama from the water. We couldn’t have picked a better day – crystal clear blue skies, puffy white clouds dotting the horizon, and a crisp breeze that picked up dramatically for an hour or so mid-afternoon. With Morgan’s help, I was able to photograph the two ships, tacking their way across Vineyard Sound – a truly dramatic sight.