Photographer’s Book Project Unites Printer, Merchant, and Papermaker to Tell the Story of ‘The Lobstermen of Little Cranberry Island’
As seen through the creative lens of award-winning photographer Tadd Myers, lobsters – and those who daily labor to catch them – have never looked better. Neither has sustainability, given his commitment to telling an extraordinary story through a curated confluence of words and images, printer and paper. It’s all available to read, touch, and experience in his new 40-page book entitled The Lobstermen of Little Cranberry Island. Beyond capturing the disciplined sinew of the lobstermen’s daily work, the natural beauty of the island and ocean, and the joy of families continuing to live the legacy of their forebears, it’s a project that unites sustainably-minded printing and paper-making companies to ensure that form would indeed follow function.
Founded in 1987, The Cranberry Isle Fishermen’s Co-Op comprises 28 independent fishermen and one woman from Little Cranberry Island in Maine. The 200-acre island is home to only 85 year-round residents, one grocery store, one pier, and one restaurant, where, not surprisingly, lobster is always on the menu. The Co-Op overnight delivers the daily haul live or cooked and vacuum-sealed, marketed as Little Cranberry Lobsters, to restaurants, distributors, specialty stores, and individuals across the country. The Co-Op takes environmental stewardship seriously. It has collaborated with government agencies in establishing trap limits, size limits, and safe-guarding egg-bearing females. All lobsters are Marine Stewardship Council certified, sustainable and traceable, calling themselves “proud custodians of a great tradition, providing a fresh product, caught right and delivered.” Most recently, in March 2019, the Co-Op began the process of solar-power installation, projected to cover 110% of its energy needs and reducing its carbon footprint by 22,073 pounds every year.
After learning about the Co-Op, its multi-generation lobstermen members, and its sustainability bonafides, Myers was determined to tell their story. His book features a carefully chosen collection of images culled from thousands that Myers and his team captured over a week of shooting on board the lobster boats and on the island. Lauded in 2020 by ARCHIVE Magazine as one of the best ad photographers in the world, Myers’ corporate, university, and nonprofit clients range from American Airlines, Apple, Chevrolet, and Harvard University to New Balance Shoes, Sprint, The United Way, Titleist, and Walmart.
“This is my fifth and largest book project and I wanted to make a piece that was not only beautiful but also deeper in concept,” says Myers. “Once we started talking about this book with the Co-Op leaders – who are incredibly enviro-conscious in how they source their lobsters – I was determined to find a printer and papermaker, also based out of the Northeast, who were equally sustainable in their approach and values.”
First up was Villanti Printers, doing business out of Milton VT. The first printer in that state to receive Forest Stewardship Council certification, and the ninth in North America, Villanti is a third-generation, family-owned business started in 1959. Its “Culture of Craftsmanship” is joined with its on-going sustainability investments, which include the installation of a large rooftop solar array, its use of VOC-free inks, and a comprehensive recycling program which includes all waste paper, office paper, bindery scraps, make-ready sheets and all plastic, wood, and metal. “This was our first project with Tadd and it was such a pleasure to work with him as he is one of those creative professionals who really, really understand printing,” recalls Kat Villanti, owner of the namesake company. “Guilty as charged,” laughs Myers. “My father owned a printing company and I worked for him each summer operating a press or doing darkroom work. Due to that experience, I learned the importance early on of quality craftsmanship; what I truly love about photography is both the technical and artistic sides.”
Myers knew from the outset of this project that he wanted to showcase the Co-Op story on uncoated stock. “I loved the idea of uncoated – it fits the imagery,” he says. “If you were only worried about perfectly toned and contrasted imagery you’d go with coated, but then you lose the feel. Everything I saw as I was shooting I was seeing on uncoated stock.” To help source a premium, uncoated paper, Myers turned to a fellow Texan, trusted partner, and longtime friend Don Clampitt of Clampitt Paper. The family-owned wholesale paper merchant was founded in Dallas in 1941 and operates out of nine locations, with offices in Austin, Ft. Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, New Mexico, and its newest location in Springfield MO. “I’ve worked with Tadd on a number of projects over the past 20 years,” says Clampitt. “The beautiful thing about Tadd is that he grew up in the world of photography and the preparation of art and how it prints. So, when he called me up about “Lobstermen” and wanted a 100% PCW [post consumer waste] uncoated stock, I knew just who to put him in touch with…”
That “who” turned out to be Monadnock Paper Mills, the oldest continuously operating paper mill in the United States. The “what” is its Astrolite PC100 uncoated fine paper. Based out of Bennington NH, the 200-year-old mill marries longevity with its high sustainability profile. Astrolite PC100, like all Monadnock materials, is FSC Certified (FSC C018866), manufactured carbon-neutral (VERs) and made with 100% renewable Green-e certified wind-powered electricity (RECs) under a third-party certified ISO 14001 Environmental Management System. “Tadd’s book is such a testament to his creative chops, ability to tell a story through great photography, and insight into how printing and paper can help to tell that story on a deeper and more meaningful level,” says Julie Brannen, Director, Sustainability Solutions for Monadnock. “We couldn’t be more pleased to help him achieve his sustainable vision along with our two long-term partners, Clampitt Paper and Villanti Printers.”
As quoted by Co-Op member and Captain Steve Philbrook in “The Lobstermen of Little Cranberry Island,” which is both available to view online and for purchase at Myers’ website: “We are bound by the ocean on this island. It creates a spirit of cooperation and neighborliness that brings us all together. It gives us a shared purpose and shared goal of making this business work. You definitely feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself when you are on the ocean.”
The same could be said for Myer’s overall approach to telling the story of his new friends from that very small island in Maine, bringing together – in a similar spirit of cooperation and shared purpose – the people, companies, and expertise to produce a meaningful book where form beautifully follows function.