Monday, August 06, 2012

Smith on Smith

"Elmer "Junior" Evans listens as local residents hang out at Harbor Side Groceries early in the morning on Smith Island, in Ewell, Md., on Monday, May 21, 2012."

In the last week of May, I visited Smith Island for a couple of days.

Smith Island,is Maryland's only inhabited offshore island in the Chesapeake, as all the others have eroded, and is in jeopardy of vanishing itself.

Since I first heard about Smith Island from friends at The Baltimore Sun years ago, they made it sound like a wonderland for photojournalists - story after story to be told. I had never been until this time and it was everything I thought it would be. Everyone was friendly and I felt as if I knew them my entire life. They weren’t afraid to open their lives with me, and for that, I am thankful.

With the help of some local residents and those familiar with the island, I was introduced to Junior, and his son, Buddy. I hung out with Junior for the better part of those days, documenting everything about his day; from sitting in the local store, helping others, readying his boat, to sitting on his couch talking, and waking at 4 a.m. to work the water.

Junior is one of the kindest souls I’ve ever met. From the minute I met him, he wasn’t afraid to tell me about himself and allow me into his life. He is patient, unhurried and honest. Whether it was Junior or other residents, I’m impressed by their strong family values and hard-work ethic on the island. Both men and women rise early to help provide for their family, and work long days, only to cherish the time with their loved ones after it’s all said and done.

While this is a very tight-knit community, rich with religious ties and history, most of my images show the solitude of the island. I hope to dive deeper in finding more of the community aspect later this year.

This visual journey, which is very much an on-going story about the people of Smith Island, was run in Baltimore Magazine this month over eight pages thanks to my wonderful editors over there. Please check it out in their Best of Baltimore issue.

I want thank all of the people of Smith Island for their hospitality and kindness, as well as, all those that helped inspire me to finally get down to the island. I hope to return soon to continue to document this unique, magical community that Maryland has.

As this is an on-going essay, here are a few favorites from my first, short stay.


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