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What's Up Magazine

Smith Island in Winter's Grip

Dec 30, 2014 09:51AM ● By Cate Reynolds
Photography by Lisa Shires

The story of Smith Island could be summed thusly: a fragment of land within Chesapeake Bay waters that grew into the home of an adventurous sort of people; a workingman’s and workingwomen’s community dependent on the waters that surround it; with resilient and tough-nailed watermen whose way of life has remained etched in time, but which is threatened by the very isolation that attracted them here in the first place.

Each summer, the community hums with activity and its cultural roots seem to thrive. Come winter, the pace slows down, as only the most enduring of watermen will ply the waters, while the remaining islanders hunker down, occupying themselves with indoor endeavors. In a community where everybody knows everyone, remoteness is still felt…especially during the coldest of months.

The story of Smith Island is its people and last winter, photographer Lisa Shires ventured into the town of Tylerton to meet them; to live with them; to capture their existence and who they are deep within winter’s grip. Their stories are told in the proceeding photos.