I’m on the Martha’s Vineyard for about a week visiting the folks and doing some shooting. Being here got me thinking about photographers who are working here now and who have worked here in the past. They basically fall into two categories, the photographers who photograph the Vineyard and those who photograph on the Vineyard. What I mean by this is that for some photographers the fact that the photographs are taken on the Vineyard is essential and for others it’s secondary. Alison Shaw definitely photographs the Vineyard. From early in my consciousness of photography I remember her work as an editorial photographer for the Vineyard Gazette and maybe that’s why I still prefer the graphic reductive simplicity of her black and white work.
Stephen DiRado, on the other hand, photographs on the Vineyard. I first learned of DiRado’s work on Alec Soth’s blog (here) and was reminded of him in last Friday’s edition of the Vineyard Gazette (Sept. 14, 2007). The article focused on DiRado’s Jump series and the difficulty he has had showing in Vineyard galleries. This difficulty, I think, is due to the fact that his work isn’t explicitly about the Vineyard and thus gallery owners think that it won’t sell. Interestingly, the series made me think of another photographer who worked on the Vineyard, Aaron Siskind, and his series Terrors and Pleasures of Levitation.
from Jump by Stephen DiRado
Terrors and Pleasures of Levitation, No. 474 by Aaron Siskind
I don’t think the Terrors and Pleasures of Levitation were shot on the Vineyard, but I do know that Siskind photographed sea weed abstractions, stone walls and other things, including the tree below on the island.
The Tree, Martha’s Vineyard, 1973 by Aaron Siskind
This tree is in the town I grew up in. I rode by it on my bike on the way to kindergarten. It’s across the street from where the bakery we bought cinnamon rolls used to be. Branches have come off in big storms. Here is what it looks like today.
Tree, 2007, Michael Silva