Maine travel photographer

The Locals' Guide to Portland, Maine for the Wall Street Journal

“James Beard award-winning restaurants line cobblestone streets, breweries turn out serious suds and the lobster roll is in a constant state of upscale reinvention. Portland, Maine, is a food-lover’s fantasyland, but the culture goes well beyond the plate. Works by Renoir, Homer and Picasso hang at the Portland Museum of Art, and Mother Nature puts on an all-seasons show. Set on the water—the Casco Bay islands make for picturesque day trips—the former capital of the state is rife with trails winding through its parks and promenades. Visitors are prone to mid-hike epiphanies: Why not live here? Soon after novelist Richard Russo and his wife, Barbara, moved to town, daughters Kate and Emily followed. Emily opened PRINT, a bookstore in artsy Munjoy Hill. ‘Our roots in Portland are very deep,’ said Mr. Russo, whose new book, Chances Are… was written there. ‘I can’t think what would get us out of here now.’”

An insider’s guide to Portland, with recommendations by artist Will Sears, chefs Ilma Lopez and Damian Sansonetti, designer Jill McGowan, and writer Richard Russo. Photographed for the Wall Street Journal.

All images © Greta Rybus for the Wall Street Journal

Adventures in Zanzibar - An Island Gem of the Indian Ocean

Images from an adventure to Zanzibar, an island with a rich history and complex culture off the coast of Tanzania. Zanzibar reminded me from a favorite story, the title selection from a favorite collection of short stories: “The Shell Collector,” by Idaho-based writer, Anthony Doerr.

“Why this lattice ornament? Why these fluted scales, those lumpy nodes? Ignorance was, in the end, and in so many ways, a privilege: to find a shell, to feel, it, to understand only on some unspeakable level why it bothered to be so lovely. What joy he found in that, what utter mystery.

Every six hours the tides plowed shelves of beauty onto the beaches of the world, and here he was, able to walk out into it, thrust his hands into it, spin of piece of it between his fingers. To gather up seashells - each one an amazement- to know their names, to drop them into a bucket: this was what filled his life, what overfilled it.”

© Greta Rybus

Revisiting Japan, an old home

I’m thinking about Japan this week: craving miso, kombu, persimmon. I grew up in Idaho, and consider it my home, but spent two of my teenage years in Northern Japan. So, Japan is my home, too. Just like Maine is my home; and Montana, where I went to college. The prefecture where my family spent those years is be the home of Aomori, the sister city of my now-home in Maine. They have similar climates and geography: rocky coastlines, thick forests, economies shaped by fishing, and long winters. It’s where I first started practicing photography in a dedicated way, the first time I learned to love a new home, the first time I saw winter surfers. I haven’t been back to Aomori since leaving in 2003, but last December I was able to revisit Southern Japan with chef/artist/guide Kaia Sisu Harper to document Japan’s plant-based food systems.

During our time together , we met Ten, a Buddhist monk, photographed at Nanzen-ji Temple in Kyoto. A year later, he is now the head priest of the Ensho-Ji Temple in Tokyo. Last December, Ten showed me and a small group of other travelers around Nanzen-ji, taking us to hidden rooms with gold painted ceilings and quiet halls that smelled like incense. He introduced us to the concept of “goen,” a word that is close to the English word "fate" or "connected-ness," used when some random occurrence(s) seem to have happened by reason, or was meant to happen. With the help of Toshi Iwaki, I asked Ten if he had any messages he’d like me to know about or share. He wrote, “"声無き想いを伝える、受ける。この縁に毎度感無量です.” Not easily translated, the text breaks down as:

声無き = [adj.] voiceless, soundless
想い = [n.] thoughts, ideas, intentions 
伝える = [v.] to tell, to transmit
受ける = [v.] to receive
この = [adj.] this
縁 = [n.] goen; connection, fate
毎度 = [adj.] every time
感無量 = [adj.] fulfilled, deeply moved
です = [v.] to be

Not easily simplified, the phrase can mean:
(1) Having the opportunity to communicate thoughts without voice; it is my source of fulfillment. (2) Every opportunity to exchange thoughts without talking; it is what fulfills me.
(3) Communicating voiceless thoughts.  These opportunities are my source of fulfillment. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Toshi, who was with us in the temple that day, and kind enough to help me translate, told me, “My interpretation of his words is that your thoughts (mind/intention) change into something else as soon as you put them into words (or, as soon as you speak). 

All images © Greta Rybus

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
 

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