February 21, 2019
The tour Karen Bell gave of the A.P. Bell fish house taught me things about commercial fishing that I’d never even thought to wonder about. Like: The kind of gear on a fishing boat is specific to the species of fish fished. Like: The Bell boats may fish for as long as 14 days before returning to Cortez. Like: The U.S. government knows where all the boats are all the time. Karen treated us to factoids on the history of the company. Like: In the 1920s several families moved to Cortez from a fishing village in Carteret County, North Carolina. The Bells are only one of those families still living in Cortez. Like: A.P. Bell ships fish or roe to Taiwan, Egypt, Italy, France, and Romania as well as Texas, California, New York, Georgia, and restaurants in and around Sarasota.
I’m sad to say that most of the photographs I took inside the fish house did not turn out, but happy to show that two of my photographs of an animated Karen did, as did some of the photos of fish in the cooler. I gladly eat fish, so I’m being something like hypocritical to admit that these beautiful dead animals made me feel sad. Karen’s tour left me with so many questions that I asked if I could come back another day to ask them. She agreed, so this may not be the last of the story about the fish bins.
Two photographs in this post show the bins being used as the fish are offloaded from small boats on trailers. These are boats that ferry the catch from the fishing boats, not those that go to sea. While waiting for the tour to start, I managed to put in some time photographing the bins up close.
February 11, 2019
I was in Cortez on a Monday, photographing fish bins. Suddenly an authoritative voice in back of me said, “What are you doing?” Uh-oh. I’d never been challenged while walking the fish-house property, but I almost always was there on a Sunday, when workers were not. I turned around to see a woman flanked by two men. I said (cheerily, I hoped), “I’m photographing these fish bins. I don’t know the real name for them, but I—” “We call them vats,” said the woman. “Oh,” I said; “Do you work here?” “Yes, I’m the owner.” Gulp. “Well,” I said, trying to stay cheerful, “I have a photograph of one of these vats at a show in Boston right now. I just love these things.” The woman broke into a grin. “Really? I’m going to Boston in March. Will the show still be up then?” Yes, it would, I assured her. Relief all around. She and her men had wondered if I was documenting something to make trouble, and I had wondered if I would be charged with trespassing.
Now that we were on friendly terms, the woman introduced herself as Karen Bell, the granddaughter of A.P. Bell, who founded the company in the 1920s. Many of the vats have “A. P. Bell” written on them in welding steel, she pointed out (and I have photographed). Karen asked if I knew what the numbers on the sides of the vats mean. (No.) “It’s the weight of the vat. After the fish are offloaded into them, the vats are weighed and the vat weight subtracted to give the weight of the fish.” The fishermen are then paid by the weight of the fish. Later in her office I got Karen’s e-mail address to send her information about the Boston show. She told me she was giving a tour of the fish house in three days to benefit the local museum, and I was welcome to sign up. I did! This story will continue in the next blog post. Here are photos I took that day.
December 10, 2018
Because of the kindness of three people, I am privileged (along with 61 other photographers) to be exhibiting a photograph in the Passageway of the Lafayette City Center in Boston. The Passageway links Macy’s with the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The show, Abstraction Attraction, is up now through May 5, 2019. Note that you can see all the photographs online. If you happen to be in the Passageway during this time and see my photo, please let me know! The photographs were selected by Paula Tognarelli, executive director and curator of the Griffin Museum of Photography. Here’s the chosen photo, The Fish Bins of Cortez 38, and a link to other fish-bin photos. Big thanks to Stephen Tomasko, who sent me the entry information, and to my friends Katie Brown and Robert Taylor, who prompted Stephen by telling him that I “was a photographer, too.”
March 23, 2018
March 22, 2018
March 21, 2018
March 20, 2018
March 19, 2018
March 18, 2018
March 17, 2018