Mysteries of Manteo – Updated
I have already posted several images from my most recent trip to Manteo, earlier this summer. Manteo lies in the Outer Banks region of North Carolina. It’s a wonderful place and we had the benefit of wonderful company throughout. We had more time to explore the area and to think, and both those two “t’s”, time and thinking, often make for better photography. I’m happy to report the release of a new book, in hard copy (on fine art paper) or e-book form that includes over twenty of those images is now available from Blurb. You can see a preview if you look to your right. If you are on a mobile device and don’t see anything to your right, then you can click on the link here:
Here’s some background for those interested. I’m a huge proponent of project oriented photography, an approach most clearly articulated perhaps by Brooks Jenson, publisher of Lenswork, my favorite photography magazine. I”ll do a lousy job of trying to paraphrase him here, but in essence, projects emerge from the photographer’s collection of assets that are subsequently grouped together around some kind of theme. You may go out on an assignment to collect a particular kind of image, built around your own vision for a particular output. But sometimes, things come together after the fact as well, when you’re looking at a body of work from a particular location.
Such was the case for me in relation to my Manteo work. After three weeks I had lots of images, some of which I liked. But I didn’t see the theme. I knew I wanted to pull them together in some type of organized output, but wasn’t sure how. Manteo is on Roanoke Island and as such is surrounded by water. Now there is a unique theme. Is that really what it’s all about? Then as I looked at the images I found myself drawn to the most mysterious ones, ones that seem to ask rather than answer questions. The reason became clear to me over time.
I was deeply moved by the story of The Lost Colony, one of the great mysteries of the English invasion of the continent. I’m from Virginia originally and often have some fun with New Englanders by reminding them that “we got here first.” (Actually, we, meaning Virginians, were not even close to being first. There were of course the Native Americans, who really were first. Then probably some Vikings. Then of course the Spanish, and who knows who else.) But actually there had been a previous attempt at establishing a permanent English colony in North America earlier in the 1580’s. That attempt took place in what is now Manteo.
It did not go well as I mentioned in earlier blogs, but the fact is that we don’t know what went wrong, to this day. Clearly, the colonists who presumably died there were (a) pawns in a larger geopolitical dialing match; (b) left to fend for themselves by greedy privateers; (c) victimized by climate forces that they could not understand nor influence; (d) beset with their own hubris, thinking that they were well prepared to farm when they really weren’t; and we could go on. The notion that they ran into a lethal conflict with the local Native America population has not been proven either, and in fact, the opposite could also have happened. They may have been befriended by those who really did get there first. Archeologists and other scientists are truly stumped. I won’t go into the details, but if you like a good mystery and particularly if you like scientific puzzles, I’d highly recommend further exploration.
That set of events, for which the play was subsequently named, is called The Lost Colony. (Click on the link if you want more background.) So while Manteo is a charming and quite friendly town surrounded by water on three sides , I will always think about the mystery that permeates the water and marshes. The new book, Mysteries of Manteo, is the result. It is printed by Blurb, which may give some pause. I now find Blurb to be doing a pretty good job, much better than in the past. The book is printed on fine art paper and the color management is quite effective. The images are a good representation of what I was trying to invoke. Again, if you’re interested, you can view the book in the widget to your right, purchase a soft cover addition, or at a greatly reduced price, the pdf. The later of course is NOT printed on fine art paper, but then you know that.
Thanks to Al, Donna, Maya and Chester, our wonderful hosts.
Tech Note: The book was created using Lightroom’s book function. I was overall pleased with how well the function worked, though it is not InDesign. Try it to create your own PDF’s.