Why The Dock? What makes this place so special for you?
I choose The Dock for a few reasons. For starters it is my favorite bar in the world; everyone knows your name, the beer is ice cold, the food is amazing, and the mix of people is second to none. If i ever have friends visiting Montauk I make them go to The Dock and experience the sense of community you feel there. That sense of community is what i cherish and love so much about growing up and living in Montauk. My mom was the chef at The Dock from the mid 80s to the mid 90s, she was actually pregnant with me cooking in the kitchen for an entire season. We were laughing about it today, she told me, “The sound of George’s voice and the smell of french fries left an impression on my infant brain.” I thought that was hilarious. There is so much rich history and amazing stories all over Montauk and I want to do photography projects that showcase that. This project was my attempt at showing a piece of what Montauk is about by focusing on the smallest of objects and honoring one of the towns most iconic bars.
Give us some more “historical” background on the bar & restaurant.
The Dock has been open since 1973, prior to that it was called Fitzgerald’s. George was a FDNY fireman at the time and was doing both that and the bar, eventually he decided both was too much and stuck with the bar. I think part of what makes The Dock so amazing is that it has stayed so true to itself and hasn’t changed a lot with the times. You can have a beer at that bar and almost feel like you are in an older Montauk, like I heard stories about from my dad as a kid. I think that is why the place is such a local institution with so many regulars, it has remained the same. Consistency always wins.
Knowing the venue and its dark and eclectic ambiance, it’s surprising to see how white, clean and polished the book is. What made you decide to go that route aesthetically?
Originally I planned on doing a portrait series of all the regulars at the bar. I knew i needed to do a photography project about The Dock and had been thinking about it a lot. I was having a beer with my friends Javas and Olivia and was explaining my idea for the portraits, and out of the blue the concept of removing all the objects, trinkets, painting, animal heads, hand made signs, etc. from the bar and shooting them in a studio evolved. So I ordered what i needed, and would set up a small studio every morning in the bar before they opened. I shot everything in the bar one by one, it took two weeks. The whole idea behind the clean white look was to focus your attention to the individual object. There is so much in that bar that you notice something new every time you walk in. I bet there are guys that go to happy hour every day that will open that book and not even know an object on the page was in the bar. Javas Lehn did the design of the book with me and he really made it special! The whole book is kind of ironic you are looking at a lot of random crusty, rude, and funny objects in this beautiful aesthetic. The cover is actual bar coaster set into the book, it is suppose to be an art book you can put your beer on.