A Note From The Photographer Jake Rajs
Three years ago, at work on a book about the Atlantic Ocean, I found myself on the North Fork. I was excited by the light, the land, and the sea. Photographing a sunset on the Sound and experiencing the afterglow was akin to watching nature create a Mark Rothko painting: bands of light in red, orange, purple, and yellow. Then I discovered that Rothko indeed lived on the North Fork; in fact, he is buried here. Did the North Fork light influence him too?
Each book has its own story. Certainly the backbone of any book on the North Fork is the heritage of farming and fishing. The local farmers and fishermen are grateful for the abundant harvest from the soil and water, and proud of their ability to band together into a community. They shared with me their own sense of this place, from gardens to historic farmsteads, to a whale-shaped rock. I was grateful for this opportunity to see a balance between humanity and the environment, a balance we are so often lacking.
Like so many before me, I have come under the spell of the atmosphere and the life of the East End. For a photographer drawn to the great works of nature and of humankind, the North Fork has an abundance of natural sights: the farmer on his tractor, the clammers in the water, the fishermen leaving the dock. Because this area retains a sense of openness, these things are accessible and without pretense. Here, I can see.
The North Fork retains its rural quality; time is measured by what the farmers are doing or what fish are running. A bud on a grapevine and tender sweet stalks of asparagus announce spring. High summer is filled with corn, peaches, and tomatoes. Netting means fall, and with luck a bountiful harvest of apples, pumpkins, grapes, and root vegetables. Trucks full of fencing herald the imminent arrival of snow. To be here is to find a harmonious rhythm shared by humankind and nature, a dance with the earth and a dance with the sea.
When I photograph a landscape, I try to capture the miracle that there is nothing more beautiful and more perfect then what is created by nature. The natural world has a soothing yet inspiring influence on our spirits, reminding us to appreciate each day. As we watch a sunset or a moonrise, a wave breaking or a leaf spinning, we repossess our souls and we believe in life. We open ourselves up to celebrate the beauty that nature creates, knowing that the moment, though never to be repeated, is timeless.