Life on the Bay

In Penobscot Bay, photographer Peter Ralston captures the people who truly understand what it means to be a Mainer.

“It has been said that the home is where the heart is, and my home and heart are in Penobscot Bay,” says photographer Peter Ralston. It’s no wonder, as the sprawling blue sky and endless ocean of Penobscot Bay makes it one of the most picturesque places in Maine. Its horizon is peppered with small islands, interjected with splashes of color from buoys and boats from the working waterfront. Within these hardworking coastal communities exists a bit of old-world charm, too. Buildings that have sat seaside for decades, worn from years of exposure to salty air, are still well-loved. But it’s in the people of these communities that Ralston finds his greatest inspiration. Through his work, Ralston seeks to understand, honor, and celebrate the men and women who set aside their personal differences to overcome everyday challenges, where the idea of interconnectedness is innately understood, and community as a whole is what matters most. Ralston, who cofounded the Island Institute and has a photography gallery in Rockport, offers a chance to connect with these communities on an individual and artistic level by taking people out on his boat for one-on-one photography sessions. “My boat, Raven, and I have seen much of the bay and its people, but another several lifetimes would not be enough to go as deeply into it all as I would like,” he says. “So, in this lifetime, I get out as often as I can, one hand on the throttle, one on the camera, with my mind and eyes open. It’s home.”