On Instagram, lobstermen capture their working world

“Sunset, Sand beach, Stonington,” Leslie Rice
“Sunset, Sand beach, Stonington,” Leslie Rice

STONINGTON — Maine lobster and other freshly caught seafood may taste great, but it’s hard, hazardous work to bring those sought-after delicacies in from the sea.

“Nothing about it is easy,” said Isaac Dworsky who has worked and played in boats since the 31-year-old lobsterman was three years old. Facing changeable winds, seas and other hazards, Dworsky and his fellow fishermen most days wake up at 3 a.m. and head out to haul hundreds of traps scattered around Penobscot Bay. Despite the long hours, the job does have its perks in the early morning, when the rising sun spills through the clouds with bursts of tangerine and violet light.

“Seagulls,” Baren Yurchick
“Seagulls,” Baren Yurchick

“Those sunrises and sunsets are like God’s paintbrush,” said Robin Dunham, 58, another career lobsterman, whose family has lived on Deer Isle for two centuries. Unlike his ancestors, Dunhan and his fellow fishermen now have a tool to easily capture and share the morning views.

“Since I’ve had an iPhone, I’ve taken way more pictures,” said Dworsky, whose images are hanging with those of five other fishermen in a new exhibit, “Imaging the Sea,” which runs through July 17 in the Kingman Gallery on Deer Isle. The exhibit is composed entirely of photographs from the Deer Isle-Stonington fishing community, sometimes straight from their Instagram collections. “Using Instagram is pretty popular among fishermen,” said Dworksy.

So popular that a local quilter named Nancy Knowlton thought the lobstermen’s pictures would make a great show and told Kingman Gallery founder and owner Anne Page about it last fall. The gallery specializes in Maine art photography. Knowlton also suggested that the proceeds from the exhibit go to the Island Fishermen’s Wives Association, which sponsors safety training for fishermen, scholarships for local students, and financial help for fishermen and their families affected by fishing accidents.

Page was hooked.

“I thought it was a brilliant idea,” said Page, who then tracked down the busy lobstermen and collected their pictures through texts and Instagram. The real challenge was sorting through all the dazzling photographs.

“I could fill this room ten times over with really beautiful images,” said Page, whose gallery features the work of professionally trained photographers from across Maine and the nation. Not that the fisherman have such training.

“Clams for Mom,” Isaac Dworsky
“Clams for Mom,” Isaac Dworsky

“I just saw the shot and took it,” said Dunham, who also likes to take pictures of the light falling on mushrooms in a forest. One of his images in the gallery shows an early morning beam of light shining down on empty rowboats dotting Stonington Harbor.

“It kinda tells a story,” said Dunham. “For every one of those row boats there was a lobster boat, and now they’re out at work.”

That hard, fickle, dangerous work. But rewarding, too.

“The beauty of it is huge,” said Dworsky, when asked what he enjoys about his occupation. But experimenting with bait, observing the weather and mapping out the ocean floor to bring in large hauls is fun too. “Catching lobsters is so addictive, like you’re on the hunt trying to figure out what Mother Nature is doing and trying to sync up with those patterns.”

Page noticed a lot of love for the job while poring over the fishermen’s Instagram photos.

“They don’t take for granted how lucky they are,” she said, regarding a picture of a fishing boat’s bow on the bay, surrounded by bright blue skies and calm waters. The picture is titled “View from My Office,” taken from the caption on fisherman Baren Yurchick’s Instagram.

“How many people can say that; ‘I love this office building!” Page said. “I can’t wait to get to my cubicle!”

Imaging the sea

What: Six Deer Isle-Stonington fishermen’s Instagram pictures of scenes at sea are on view at Kingman Gallery in Deer Isle.

When: Through July 17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sundays or by appointment.

Where:  117 Center District Crossroad, 117 Center District Crossroad, Deer Isle (corner Sunset Rd. ½ mile south of Deer Isle village).

Contact: 348-9333, [email protected], www.kingmangallery.com.

David Roza

David Roza

Former reporter, David Roza grew up in Washington County, Maryland, has reported in Washington County, Oregon, and covered news in Hancock County and Washington County, Maine for The American and Out & About.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.