Growing up as the daughter of a Virginia waterman has given Sarah Haynie a different perspective from many of her peers. She has watched workboats pull away from the dock in the dim light of morning, and when she sees a platter of steamed crabs on a restaurant table she is keenly aware of the hard work it took to get them there. It is no surprise that Sarah uses a camera lens to capture and share what she has so uniquely experienced, or that she has decided to memorialize the watermen of Reedville in a calendar. After all, she has lived on the water her whole life—all eleven years of it.
So how does an eleven year-old middle-schooler become a marine photographer?
“She started when she was little, taking pictures with her aunt [Lynn Kellum, a local photographer],” says mother Erin Haynie. “Then this past Christmas she told us all she wanted was a camera.”
Sarah got her wish, a Canon EOS Rebel, and Erin says, “She picked right up on it.” She started by photographing the things she loves most—sunsets and herons—but found herself increasingly focusing on the work boats that are so integral to her life. The family’s home and their business, Fleeton Point Seafood, are located near Omega Protein’s Reedville menhaden plant, and Sarah caught a lot of good photos of the factory vessels coming in and out of Cockrell Creek. She also began taking pictures of her father, Billy Haynie, and other waterman on their boats. The number of digital photos grew, but Sarah wasn’t sure what to do with them.
“My Dad suggested the calendar,” Sarah says, “along with my sister Jessica.”
The project was a big undertaking for a young girl. Her parents contacted a Tappahannock printing company to get an idea of the costs, and they emphasized that if she wanted to do it Sarah would be responsible for not only taking the pictures, but also helping to sell the final product. She was still determined, so her father helped by texting local watermen, asking permission for Sarah to interview and photograph them for the calendar. Sarah eventually took close to 1,000 photos, and over the summer, she began the difficult process of winnowing that number down to the dozen or so needed for her project. Each photo shows Reedville watermen doing what they love, and its authenticity is born of the fact that Sarah is not just a bystander. She and her sister have 30 pots of their own, and she is quick to point out that she knows how to work them.
“Pulling pots by hand is hard, especially crab pots,” she admits, then adds with a smile, “but doing eel pots is okay.”
When the calendar was completed this fall, Sarah set aside her pots and camera to make time for marketing and selling her work at the family business and at venues like the Reedville Fishermen Museum’s Boat Show. She hopes to make enough money to reimburse her parents for
the printing costs, to save some to support her photography passion, and to “buy something special” for her sister and brother.
You can have a copy of this unique calendar capturing Virginia watermen through Sarah’s eyes for $15. Order by phone at 804-436-3326 or email [email protected], while they last.