Escape to Marthas Vineyard

By Steve Edson | August 19, 2020

Summer with hot sunny days, late sunsets and the harvest from the local farms is in full splendor. Social distancing is easier to do as people can spend more time outside exploring the world around them while minimizing the danger to each other.

Getting on a plane, ferry or train or a car full of luggage ready for a road trip has always filled me with the excitement that a travel adventure is truly getting underway. A recent “local” vacation” to Marthas Vineyard amidst the coronavirus pandemic in many ways was the same trip as it’s always been but within the pandemic lens, it was a very different experience.


Horizontal color photograph of people wearing face masks on the ferry to Marthas Vineyard, Massachusetts.


People wore masks and kept their social distancing but then again we spent our time up island in Chilmark and Menemsha where there are fewer people and a lot more land. The local towns and businesses definitely wanted to make sure visitors and locals kept vigilant in practicing safe social distancing and required everyone to wear face masks when in close proximity to each other.


Horizontal color photograph of a beach on Marthas Vineyard with a sign specifying a mandatory mask zone. Marthas Vineyard, MA


Keeping ones distance to other people in a beautiful environment in many ways is not too difficult to do. With the natural environment as a focus of my experience, walking the beautiful Lucy Vincent Beach gave me plenty of time to look around this little island in the Atlantic Ocean and contemplate the beautiful and strange world we are living in.


Horizontal color landscape photograph of Lucy Vincent Beachin Chilmark, Marthas Vineyard, MA


By limiting our social activities, the coronavirus has showed us the importance of certain traditions, habits and experiences that we enjoy.  These times has us looking for  the familiar comforts before the virus has forced us to change almost everything we do. A trip to The Galley in Menemsha for an after dinner ice cream at sunset offers more time outside and a chance to enjoy the last light of the day. After looking at a photograph like this one, people seem to be somewhat close to each other but in reality everyone outside of their “pods” kept safe distances from each other. The use of certain lenses and perspectives and points of view compress people and objects to look like they are closer together than was actually occurring. As I was neither woking for a “client” to illustrate a specific storyline or trying to create a false narrative, this moment is all about leisure time during the Summer and the magic glow of exterior light with street lights that Edward Hopper, the great American artist, was also so fond of recreating in many of his great paintings.


Horizontal color photograph of people in line to get food and ice cream at The Galley in Menemsha, Marthas Vineyard, MA

On the one cloudy day during our island escape, we headed down Island to see what there was to see. We found somewhat busy streets and too many people in the small town of Vineyard Haven. Street portraits have always interested me and with the added visual curiosity of people wearing face masks of various patterns and colors more questions have come up. Do masks enable people to hide behind them? How important is it to see a person’s facial expression to read and understand them thru body language?


Horizontal color photograph of an older woman sitting on a bench while wearing a face mask in Vineyard haven, Marthas Vineyard, MA


Through the pandemic lens and by contextualizing what and how we are are seeing the world around us now versus how we might have looked at the same scene or objects or people during ‘normal’ times, life has certainly changed. I know I have been changed. Maybe we have all been altered to some varying degrees by this experience of living thru the pandemic. When the news is full of stories that hundreds if not thousands of people have passed away in the past 24 hours. Fear and death, hope, resilience, and work and then we look for some form of distraction and entertainment. Even for those who deny that Covid 19 even exists or can cause sickness or be fatal to others. The death toll keeps track of the seriousness of this virus.


Horizontal color photograph of the Atlantic Ocean being effected by waves, tides and wind


Are these the shoes of the recently departed, from someone who no longer needs them? To be covered up and reclaimed by nature? Or is this person enjoying a walk on the beach to see the power and beauty of the majestic Atlantic Ocean and returning to use them once again as they continue on with their life?


Horizontal color photograph of flipflops covered with sand at the beac.


Copyright © 2020 Steven Edson
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