After practicing civil rights and environmental law for over twenty years, I have spent the last eight years photographing inhabitants of islands and coastal areas of Maine. The individuals I photograph live simply, and demonstrate dignity and tenacity when, by choice or lack of opportunity, they are forced to survive under either the harsh economics or isolation of island living, or an increasingly difficult traditional way of life. They reside in remote or isolated beauty, and maintain a direct connection with the natural environment; dependent on the State’s natural resources and society’s ever changing markets. As one natural resource becomes scarce, they must find another more abundant one to sustain themselves.
The images are of people and places on physical and metaphoric islands. There is both simplicity and beauty in their lives, as well as hardship. Many of my images dwell on the smaller details of life, or live in the shadows created by the often-dim natural lighting under which many were created. They are meant to accurately represent lives, places and/or events, while evoking emotions that may be unrelated to the underlying “facts” of the photographs. By photographing the specific, I am squarely in the documentary tradition. By trying to make the specific universal, I aim to create emotive images in the fine art tradition.
The lifestyles of the individuals and the environments I photograph demonstrate, among other things, how far our society has come from the once organic, symbiotic relationships between human communities and our natural conditions. My photographs are meant as a celebration of the people and places where the human spirit still connects with the natural world.