Big Picture

A notable Annapolis photographer makes his literary debut.

By Lydia Woolever - October 2016

Big Picture

A notable Annapolis photographer makes his literary debut.

By Lydia Woolever - October 2016

Photographer Jay Fleming focuses his lens on the majestic Chesapeake Bay. -Photography by Mike Morgan

As he looks through his photographs, Jay Fleming becomes an encyclopedia of the Chesapeake Bay. He talks about the weight of a pound net teeming with rockfish, or the life cycle of a blue crab, shedding its shell. He throws out names you’ve never heard before, let alone associated with our waters—sugar toads, ribbonfish—and remembers every weathered waterman he has met along the way.

“There’s a lot more to the bay than crabs, oysters, and rockfish,” he says. “Spend enough time swimming around the grass beds and you’ll be amazed at what you can find.”

Fleming, 29, is flipping through the pages of his first book, Working the Water, a visual narrative of our state estuary, but his story goes back even further, to his childhood in Annapolis, where he inherited a love for photography and the outdoors from his father, Kevin, then a National Geographic photographer. From an early age, with his dad’s hand-me-down Nikon, Fleming created his own aesthetic, heading out on nearby waters with little more than a kayak and film.

By the time he reached his 20s, after stints at the Department of Natural Resources and Yellowstone National Park, Fleming decided to pursue photography full-time, focusing his lens on the majestic waterway where he grew up. From winter through summer, he explored its characters and creatures, waking as early as 2 a.m. to travel all over the bay—by buyboat, clam rig, skipjack, even his own trusty kayak—snapping everything from fish and crustaceans to bivalves and turtles in Maryland and Virginia. Beyond the wildlife, Fleming endeavored to document the culture of Chesapeake watermen and their communities.

“Some were apprehensive at first,” he says with a smile. “But now those same people have become great friends.”

After three years, Fleming’s 280-page coffee-table book hits shelves this month, filled with poignant portraits and a breathtaking snapshot of life on the bay.

“If I had more time, I could have done even more,” he says. “The more I went out, the more I learned, and the more I realized how many people still make a living off the water. I saw how the industry was aging and how many people who were passing away had seen parts of the bay and its culture that we’ll never see again. That has motivated me to keep taking pictures."





You May Also Like


Arts District

Culture Club: Charm City Fringe Festival, Elizabeth Catlett, and An Evening with Mike Rowe

Our monthly roundup of openings, events, and news from the art world.

Arts District

The Mare Projects Connects Communities in the African Diaspora

Works from their first-ever residency program will be on display at Gallery CA.

Arts District

We Choose Explores Black Womanhood in Fells Point

The new exhibit features works by emerging black female artists at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Museum.


Arts & Culture

Book Reviews: September 2019

Featured reads from Rob Hiaasen and Sarah Pinsker.

MaxSpace

Movie Review: Pain and Glory

Almodóvar’s most personal film is also his most subdued

The Chatter

Male/Female Statue: Should It Stay or Go in Penn Station Overhaul?

The future of the long-controversial 52-foot sculpture could be in question with train station redesign.

Photographer Jay Fleming focuses his lens on the majestic Chesapeake Bay. -Photography by Mike Morgan

Connect With Us

Most Read


The Mare Projects Connects Communities in the African Diaspora: Works from their first-ever residency program will be on display at Gallery CA.

New City Council Bill Could Ban Plastic Bag Use Across Baltimore: A vote next week could set in motion a bill that reaches the mayor’s desk.

What the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s One-Year Agreement Means For its Musicians: After a tension-filled absence, the BSO’s 104th season will open this weekend.

The Book Thing Starts Next Chapter Under New Management: Here’s what to know when planning a visit to Baltimore’s free-to-all bookshop.

Cardinal Art Walks Explore Works Outside of the Gallery's Bolton Hill Walls: The ongoing fall exhibition is meant to make participants see the city in a new way.