Maine photojournalist

The Swedish Tradition of Midsommar in Northern Maine, Photographed for Yankee Magazine

Midsommar is a festival of lightness, flowers, warmth, and food. It’s also a celebration of the natural movement of people. People take a lot of pride in the stories of how their greatgrandfathers and great-great-grandmothers wound up living in northern Maine, but there’s also a sense of latent worry. Aroostook County is a place that’s dwindling in population, and it has been for years. For these Mainers, immigration isn’t a problem to be solved. It’s a necessity. 

“We have a saying up here,” he tells me. “If you are not Swedish by genealogy, you can be Swedish by association. Swedishness is a feeling. It’s a feeling of community and comfort and understanding and appreciation.” Really, he says, “it’s just about being welcoming.” It’s a big-hearted sentiment, as sweet as lingonberry jam… but, I’m inclined to believe it. Midsommar is a relic from the past, but perhaps it’s also a symbol of our shared future. 

Text by writer, friend, and collaborator Katy Kelleher. Photographed for Yankee Magazine

© Greta Rybus

Phid Lawless of Lunaform, Photographed for Alys Gazette

“I wanted to create pots that are reminiscent of vessels found in ancient Greek and Roman gardens. Those things have been around for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years!”

“It’s peaceful and beautiful, and not too far from the luxury of grocery stores, if you know what I mean. Some small towns around here don’t even have gas stations. Sullivan is a perfect place to work and live if you don’t mind a few feet of snow every now and then.”

Phid Lawless, of Lunaform, where he makes handcrafted vessels in Northern Maine. Photographed for the Alys Gazette

All images © Greta Rybus

New Feature Work for Outside Magazine: "What Happens When You Teach a Cowboy to Sail"

Or, alternate title: “Our Love is like a Ship on the Ocean”

New work for Outside Magazine, images to accompany the saga of a sailor-turned cowgirl and mountain man / cowboy out on the sea. Claire Antoszewski and Will Grant co-wrote the story of their adventure on the sea, and what it meant to weather the open water as a couple.

“Entering unfamiliar harbors can be dodgy; enter in the dark during a storm and it’s downright scary. But cold and tired, we beat doggedly toward Gloucester. We couldn’t see Norman’s Woe, the fabled site of many shipwrecks to the southwest of the harbor, but there was a faint blinking light warning us to steer clear. We could barely make out the lobster pots until we were almost on top of them. There were hundreds, their malevolent little lines ready to wrap around any propeller that came too close. Our new spotlight didn’t work. We rounded the break wall and picked up the first mooring we came across. I tried to hail the yacht club it belonged to on the radio, but there was no answer. Closed for winter. We cooked two boxes of macaroni and cheese, devoured it in heaping, steaming spoonfuls, and went to bed. It was a night of rolling and bucking, and not between the sheets. Like two corpses we lay, straining our ears to make sure that Goose was still tied to the mooring. The wind mocked us all.”

- Claire Antoszewski

“By now, Claire and I had our routine dialed. No other aspect of our life together required the communication or cooperation of managing the boat. Claire was the captain, I the mate. We worked together. We solved our problems—not the kind that send flat-footed couples to therapy, but the kind that require someone on deck and someone aloft, someone to tie in the reef lines and someone to steer the boat head to wind. We relied on each other. I wasn’t ready to sell the horses and buy our dog a life jacket, but the experience further convinced us that we could spend our lives together—on land and sea.”

-Wil Grant

Read the full feature here.
All images © Greta Rybus for Outside Magazine

The New Makers: New England Artists Photographed for Yankee Magazine

“Their skills are as old as New England itself; their materials, timeless. But there’s a modern gleam that run through the work of the 10 artisans in these pages, each pushing the bounds of what’s expected while still keeping that essential connection: hand to hand, theirs to ours.”

Ten New England artist photographed for Yankee Magazine: Forrest Stone, Addie Peet, James and Zoe Zillian, John Welch, Jeremy Frey, Tanya Monique Crane, Linny Kenney, Ruben Marroquin, Moriah Cowles, and Melinda Cox. Written by Annie Graves.

All images © Greta Rybus for Yankee Magazine

Bill Mackowski, one of the last snowshoe makers, for Another Escape

“I’ve been a woodsman my entire life. I’ve hunted and trapped and spent time out in the woods since I was a kid. In the winter, we always had to use snowshoes and pack baskets, and as I got older I took an interest in making my own. I originally started making snowshoes when I was in my late thirties, when I was kind of going through a midlife crisis.There was an old fella here in Maine called Dick McCubrey who made snowshoes – one of the last guys left – and I asked him to make me a pair. He said, “Listen, why don’t I teach you how to make your own?” I said, “Gee, that sounds like a great idea”. From him, I learnt the basics for a pretty standard working snowshoe, and that’s where it all started. 

People tend to overlook the importance of snowshoes for the spread of civilization. They often don’t realize the incredible history and impact snowshoes have had. They go way back to the original expansion of civilization; for so long, travel was restricted to canoes, but the snowshoe opened up areas that were otherwise totally inaccessible. “

Bill Mackowski is considered to be among the last snowshoe makers. He makes snowshoes and pack baskets by hand in his workshop on his farm in Milford, Maine- where he also houses a collection of over 200 snowshoes from around the world in every size, shape, and tradition. Photographed for Another Escape.

All images © Greta Rybus for Another Escape

The Home As Art: A Curator's Renovated Church for Remodelista

Donna McNeil is a woman wholly devoted to the arts: as an executive director, arts advocate, storyteller, and curator. Last year, she bought an 1851 church in Rockland, Maine; shaping the space with a curator’s mind and a vision based on art and community. She shares her home with one artist tenant: “My housemate is a young artist who is engaged in an ongoing project centered around the idea of the ancient faith-based idea of ‘radical hospitality,'” she says. “Every two weeks we—she, really—invite the entire community in for bread, soup, and cake.”

“As a person without family, I wanted to welcome in community,” she continued. “Working in the arts, it was natural that I would have creatives using the space as they envisioned. I’ve had a cello performance, a book reading, a sound installation, a sculpture exhibit, and dance.” 

Photographed for Remodelista, with interview and writing by Annie Quigley. Read the full article here.

High Ridge Farm Photographed for Remodelista

Katee Lafleur and Andrew White found an old farm property on Maine FarmLink, a division of Maine Farmland Trust, when they were living in Vermont and looking to make a move. “We felt like we were suddenly in on the secret that is the midcoast of Maine,” Lafleur says. As they set about tilling the land—they grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers, and raise chickens and woodland hogs—they also turned their attention to the 1835 farmhouse, drawing from instinct and learning as they went. “I was drawn to the simplicity and bare-bonedness,” Lafleur says. They took the walls down to the plaster, sourced extraordinary vintage finds from Craigslist and Goodwill, and added hides and bleached-white bones, relics of their butchered animals. The result: stripped-down and striking interiors that, like the farm, are a constant work in progress.

New work for High Ridge Farm for Remodelista. Caption adapted from writer and editor Annie Quigley's story, which you can read (with more images from the home and farm here). 

All images © Greta Rybus
 

Blending Culture and Community to Combat Addiction: the Penobscot Healing to Wellness Court

The Penobscot Healing to Wellness Court has many of the basic functions of state drug courts, which seek to foster recovery rather than punitive actions. Like most courts, the Healing to Wellness Court provides intensive case management and counseling, frequent drug testing, and a balance of sanctions and incentives. The tribe’s court is different; incorporating culture and tradition as a part of recovery. Each court session starts with a prayer and a smudging- burning sage and traditional medicines. Participants are expected to attend regular drumming circles, language classes, and cultural events and activities. And, perhaps most importantly, a central tenant of the program is to focus as much on community healing as on individual healing.

New assignment work for independent nonprofit journalism group Pine Tree Watch, published in the Bangor Daily News, story written by Chelsea Conaboy

All images © Greta Rybus
 

India Part Two: Bangalore to Mysore for Lodestars Anthology

This May, at the edge of India's hottest season, I traveled from Bangalore to Mysore for UK-based travel magazine Lodestars Anthology. With Kamalan Travels as my guide, I visited palaces and temples, sacred river banks and thriving silkworm farms. The area is more popular with local tourists than foreign visitors, with thousands of Indian visitors each day. 

Read more about Lodestar Anthology's India Issue here

All images © Greta Rybus

Climate Change and the Lobster Industry, photographed for the New York Times

"Since the early 1980s, climate change had warmed the Gulf of Maine’s cool waters to the ideal temperature for lobsters, which has helped grow Maine’s fishery fivefold to a half-billion-dollar industry, among the most valuable in the United States. But last year the state’s lobster landings dropped by 22 million pounds, to 111 million.

Now, scientists and some fishermen are worried that the waters might eventually warm too much for the lobsters, and are asking how much longer the boom can last.“Climate change really helped us for the last 20 years,” said Dave Cousens, who stepped down as president of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association in March. But, he added, “Climate change is going to kill us, in probably the next 30.”

Since 2015, my personal work has centered around investigating and documenting how climate change impacts people and communities. I was so pleased to have an assignment with the New York Times to photograph how climate change will shape the lobster industry, with excellent writing and reporting by Livia Allbeck-Ripka. 

Read the article in the New York Times here

All images © Greta Rybus for the New York Times