I recently asked Jay Fleming a local photographer from Annapolis to be in my Artisan Portraits film series. The series focuses on artists and tells their story of why and how they create. Jay’s work specialized on capturing life on the Chesapeake Bay.
He asked me to meet him down at Smith Island, which is a series of islands at one of the most southern points in Maryland. Smith Island is Maryland’s only inhabited Chesapeake Bay Island that is unattached to the mainland by bridge. The island was first mapped by Captain John Smith in 1608, and people have lived and worked on the island for over 200 years.
It’s a 45 minute ferry ride out to the island. Once you arrive, there are three small islands that are inhabited. Jay originally visited these set of islands to photography a unique group of pelicans that nest very close to the islands. By continuing to photograph the Chesapeake Bay he started making more visits to the islands and started not only documenting the wildlife but also the people who called Smith Island home.
Jay goes back often to photography on Smith Island for an assignment or to offer a photography workshop. Throughout his time there he has found out the best places to take photos on the island and takes people who sign up for his workshops there to photograph them as well. You can find out more about his workshops on his website: jayflemingphotography.com/workshops/
What I found most unique about my time with Jay on the island was not how well he knew his surroundings but how he really became a part of the community. I think that is one reason why his photographs are so unique and standout. It’s because over the years people on the island have come friends with him and it shows through in the portraits he takes of them.
When I first starting to talk to Jay about featuring him in my film series I did not know about this new world I was going to get to explore. Jay came out with a book titled “Working the Water” which is on it’s third printing. It’s a perfect gift for the Holidays coming up! Further more he shared with me that he’s currently working on another book that will be titled “Island Life” which will specifically highlight Smith and Tangier Islands.