Trouble with Shooters
is a New York City-based food and beverage photographer with a concentration on the restaurant and chef scene in the greater New York area. His photographs are frequently published in some of the country's most prestigious publications. His betrothed, Jordana Rothman, is a wildly talented award-winning food writer. They have a cat named Birdie and a recently-deceased cat named Mingus, considered by many of the top minds in the field of kittenry to have been the greatest domestic cat in recorded American history.
Not every important landmark needs to appear on a map, or in a book. What one person deems worthy of planning a road trip around, another might dismiss, saying, "Why the hell would I want to go see an old abandoned ship sitting in a puddle?"
Photogragraphers have a different value system though, and because so many people see the world through their lenses, they are the ones starting to determine this country's points of visual interest. I know people who would sooner have visited the Point Reyes shipwreck in California before visiting a local museum or national park. I've personally made that decision on photography trips. You only have so much time and light to document your experience, so you follow your instincts.
Photographers are seeking out these modern landmarks, places like the Point Reyes shipwreck in Tomales Bay. I'd seen this iconic image captured multiple times, mostly on Instagram, and several times by close personal contacts. I knew I needed to visit if I was ever nearby, and luckily I managed to do so a few years back with some friends. For me it was a checked box on the long list of places I want to document in my lifetime.
There are some trips photographers feel compelled to make in our country right now. Places like the spiritual Joshua Tree in California, the strange transporting vibe of Marfa Texas. People who take their travel photography seriously right now often take cues from other photographers, often on instagram. We're fed a steady diet of beautiful landscapes, architecture, sexy models, and of course delicious food. I've been fortunate enough to have benefited from Instagram and people's unquenchable thirst for food photos in my career.
That's why I wanted to visit that photo-landmark in Point Reyes. I hoped my images would inspire others to go out there and see what it's all about. I didn't spend hours there but I felt the connection to the thousands of other people who stood there, appreciating this crazy looking old boat sitting on land, perched proudly, offering anyone with a camera the opportunity to capture its unique beauty.
A few months ago I heard about a fire at the Point Reyes shipwreck. Apparently some young photographers in an attempt to enhance their image, lit some steel wool on fire (a photography technique that can create a wild, brilliant effect using a long shutter) and burned a lot of the boat down, ruining what was there.
The thing that hurts the most is that it wasn't the National Park who removed the boat, or put up a gate so people couldn't take their photos. It wasn't some group of idiot teenagers partying and destroying something out of youthful ignorance, it was another photographer.
If a photographer is using the beauty of a place to create their art, they have a responsibility to preserve it.
The first thing I thought about, and I'm not sure if this is a totally fair comparison (but I never said I was fair) is the current situation that's going on in the Middle East having to do with the destruction of art and antiquities by terrorist groups like ISIS. When they capture a city or town in Syria, they are destroying all that... all the good stuff.
They destroy art because it conflicts with their religious agendas, and the world loses a piece of itself, of its aesthetic and emotional history as a result. In this country we have the freedom to make and disseminate our art. It's a blessing as much as a responsibility to create it, and protect and preserve the things that inspire us.
The shipwreck of Point Reyes is still standing and can be visited, but it's forever altered, not quite the same as it was. Visit it if you're out on the coast of California and be reminded how important it is to respect and discuss these things, so they're around for future photographers to capture.