Pier is irresistible lure… for photographers

Alison Shaw began photographing the pier in the early days of construction. This shot was taken in July, 2013. — Alison Shaw Photography

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The new public fishing pier in Oak Bluffs is about to be officially dedicated, and already local fishermen are hauling in lines heavy with their finned prizes.

But even before the pier was finished, the strong lines of the structure jutting out into Nantucket Sound began attracting an eclectic assortment of photographers to the North Bluff. On many mornings before dawn, a shutter-clicking crowd descends on the seawall. They clamber down on the boulder-strewn beach, hauling tripods and camera bags, with Nikons and Canons swinging from their shoulders. It takes a bit of good-natured cooperation to stay out of each others’ shot.

Long lenses, sunrise, short lenses, foggy, long exposures, sunset, cloudy, or clear, the seemingly endless variation in conditions and camera settings provide a creative palette alluring enough to set alarms to 4:30 am.

The reward, beyond the early calls, foot sprains, and water-filled boots, are some stunning images.

The state office of Fishing and Boating Access paid for the construction of the pier, the first on Martha’s Vineyard devoted exclusively to fishing. It will also be the first pier of its type in the state’s coastal waters, a place where kids and families can easily go to fish.

On Thursday, June 19 at 11 am, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Undersecretary for Environment Martin Suuberg, Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Mary Griffin, Office of Fishing and Boating Access Director Jack Sheppard and Division of Marine Fisheries Director Paul Diodati, along with Oak Bluffs and Island officials will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new fishing pier.

Editor’s note: Many of these photographers — Karla Bernstein, Michael Skelton, Doug Burke and Gwen Norton — were students of Alison Shaw, who conducts a six-month mentorship program and used the pier as a “hot topic” over one week in early April.