A Year of Reflection: Our Favorite Photos of 2021

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Farquhar Celestial Navigation Sphere Device 1X3, collection-number: 1953.0021.000001. Photo: Brock Switzer/ The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

If you’re reading this blog post, then, first, congratulations! You made it through 2021 or, as I’ve seen it called, 2020 part two. All joking aside, it has been a whirlwind of a year. Pandemic numbers ebbed and flowed like tides, and we all tried our best to return to some semblance of normalcy in our lives, most of us finding out that “normal” has changed.

For our part, the Museum reopened our galleries and invited you all to join us once more, to connect with the world’s waters and to each other. Our staff returned, events resumed, and our work continued. We never really closed at the onset of the pandemic. We simply switched to providing what we could to our community on virtual platforms. Now we are back in person, and Amanda and I have had a lot of photographing to do.   Read more

Telling a Story: A Documentarian Eye

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Senior Conservator Elsa Sangouard and Archaeological Conservators Laurie King and Lesley Haines screen concretion removed from USS Monitor artifacts.

A man of many hats

I did not expect how many photography styles I would have to be familiar with as a museum photographer. I might have on my technical photographer hat; focused on meeting set standards to ensure precision reproduction is possible. A little later on, I might become a still-life photographer and carefully craft lighting to create a beautiful image of an artifact. That afternoon, I might have to be a documentarian and follow staff members that are doing interesting work. 

If you’re familiar with my photography, you will probably know that I am typically the happiest when I’m in the studio working with lighting to create images that make our artifacts look beautiful. What can I say? I’m a bit of a control freak, and the level of control I get to exert in the studio is comforting to me. That said, every once in a while, it’s good to step out into the wide world outside my studio doors and take photos with less control.    Read more

Biscuits Off the Beaten Path

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A menu from the centennial celebration of The Baltimore Steam Packet Company on May 23, 1940. Collection Number: Ms0015—01365

Easy to Overlook

Well, well, well. I’ve definitely done it this time. You’ll hear from museum professionals over and over about the idea of falling down the proverbial rabbit hole. Something captures our attention, and away we go, sometimes spending hours upon hours digging into the topic du jour. It can be anything that causes this condition. It might be a shipwreck, a painting, a moment in time, an exciting person, etc. Sometimes it’s a side dish on a menu. Yeah, you read that right. Come to think of it, though, a side dish might even be too grand a description.

I recently had cause to photograph some of our ephemera (a fancy word for printed memorabilia) from The Baltimore Steam Packet Company. You may be more familiar with their moniker “Old Bay Line.” One of the items I digitized was the menu for the Baltimore Steam Packet Company’s centennial celebration dinner on May 23, 1940. From the menu, it’s safe to assume that it was a grand affair featuring such sophisticated dishes as seafood cocktail, terrapin a la Chesapeake, golden roast pheasant, Maryland Beaten Biscuits, Cen–   Read more

A Small Look Back: Our Top Photos of 2020

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The Mariners’ Museum in snow. Image: Amanda Shields/The Mariners’ Museum and Park

Brock:

Since its inception in 1930, The Mariners’ Museum and Park has employed photographers to document the institution’s Collection and progression and tell our stories visually. Through the waters, through our shared maritime heritage, we are all connected. Our photographs aim to bring that point home. Amanda and I are lucky to work for an organization that understands that a picture is often worth a thousand words.

Although 2020 has had its share of challenges and obstacles, we have done our best to continue the tradition of visual storytelling. In March, we closed our doors to the public amid the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our staff headed home for two weeks. Two weeks turned into much longer. I believe I speak for both of us when I say that we were elated when we got the green light to return to continue photographing our Collection and various happenings around the Museum.   Read more

Not Your Average Joe

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Marion Barbara “Joe” Carstairs

Joe

Marion Barbara “Joe” Carstairs would be the first to tell you that she was “never a little girl.” Born February 1, 1900, in London, Joe was the first child of American heiress Frances Evelyn Bostwick (the second child of Jabez Bostwick, a founding partner of Standard Oil). Her legal father was Captain Albert Carstairs of the Royal Irish Rifles, or, at least, we think. Captain Carstairs re-enlisted in the army one week before Joe’s birth. He and Evelyn divorced soon after that, and some suggest that he may not have been Joe’s biological father.

Joe’s mother, who went by her middle name, Evelyn, was “fed by alcohol and heroin,” according to biographer Kate Summerscale. She was known for her string of lovers and husbands. Joe’s favorite was Count Roger de Périgny, who was much more of a buddy than a father. The Count shared many of his hobbies with his new stepdaughter, some much less wholesome than others. The most important, however, was his love of things that go fast. In fact, de Périgny had one of his racecars modified so that 16-year-old Joe could drive it. The relationship between Evelyn and Roger, unsurprisingly, did not last.   Read more