Everything is moving — the sunrise, the boat, the crew, and, of course, myself and my camera.
The ice-cold waves are smacking against every side of the boat like it’s their job, the salt-laden wind is corroding the skin on lips and hands quicker than you can say Chapstick or yank on your gloves. Just yesterday the water was calm, the day young, and the lobsters ripe for the picking; today, meanwhile, feels like it will never end and your breakfast will never stay put. Tadd Myers, having lived it, knows this feeling all too well.
Tadd has been a commercial and advertising photographer for more than 20 years. This will be his fifth self-published booklet. With an exposed Smythe-sewn binding, a custom-printed rubber band, a gate-folded front and back cover, and three stunning interior foldouts, the booklet tells a story bursting with history, heart, and lobster.
A few years ago, Tadd traveled to the South Island of New Zealand for two weeks. While there, he scheduled a ride onboard a few lobster boats but time got away from him and he left New Zealand unsatisfied and dreaming of lobsters.
I always felt that a photo essay or story about lobster fishermen could be a perfect personal project for our next promotional booklet. The following year, I began thinking about lobstermen here in the U.S. and decided that Maine was probably the best place to start our search.
Tadd found Little Cranberry Lobster, a product of the Cranberry Isle’s Fishermen’s Co-Op.
They were one of the first companies we called. They were very nice and extremely interested, so we shipped them some recent promo books and began discussing the trip with them.
Tadd and the co-op decided on shooting in early September, the beginning of the latter’s “prime” fishing season. Tadd arrived on the coast at Southwest Harbor, which is where the lobster co-op delivers its daily catch to buyers. Cranberry Island is only reachable by boat, so, from Southwest Harbor, Tadd boarded one of their transport boats and headed out.
On Little Cranberry Island, there are only about 80 people who live there full time. There’s only one restaurant and a tiny grocery store, which is part of the co-op.
On his first day on the island, Tadd met many of the 28 lobstermen and women who helped arrange the trips that the photographer would take with them in search of the lobster.
We were on the island for five days and took day trips out with three different lobstermen boats. We stayed in the harbor one day with Bruce, a longtime co-op member since the 1970s. We also went offshore with Steve & Abe in their larger 40-plus-foot boats on two separate days.
Jonathan, one of Tadd’s main contacts at the co-op, connected him with the lobstermen and prepared him for what to expect while out at sea.
I spent a decent amount of time on fishing boats with my father when I was young, so I was pretty well prepared. One of the offshore days was very calm and allowed me to move freely around the boat, up on the bow and roof.
The second offshore day was not calm. It was extremely rough and the waves were splashing up against the boat, rocking it hard, making it impossible for me to make it up front or on the bow.
Despite the rough waters, Tadd shot more than 9,000 images throughout the week. Enlisting the help of a photo editor he’d worked with before, Tadd narrowed down the images drastically in order to best tell the story.
I always prefer to shoot as many images as possible so that I have the diversity needed later for the edit. This is why we rode along with several fishermen so that we could photograph three different boats and crews.
The final edit was a collection of around 40 images that create an all-encompassing narrative of the broader Little Cranberry Island Lobstermen Co-op story.
These are hardworking people that truly love and respect the outdoors. They love being able to make their living riding the waters off the coast of Maine.
See more of Tadd’s work at taddmyers.com.
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