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Background photo by Greg Hinson

I read an ad that said Nantucket Cottage Hospital was recruiting and I initially thought, “Well, that’d be a great interview trip.” My wife and I came up and stayed here for a weekend in February and we were just smitten with the island—to have this small town like we wanted, still bucolic and charming, but with a real level of sophistication. We were sort of seduced. We came for a second visit in April and it just reinforced that it was the right thing for us to do. The third time we got off the boat was in July, and we wondered if it was the same place (laughs).

In a lot of places, especially in New England, there are enough specialists that the family doctors’ roles have diminished to dealing with yearly physicals and sore throats. But on Nantucket, where primary care is the only efficient model, we’re working with emergency rooms and working with semi-intensive care patients, delivering babies, doing nursery care, nursing home care—the location allows us to practice the full spectrum of medicine we were trained to do as family physicians.

There are so many things that become gradually ingrained in your personality when you live here. The idea of never getting your vehicle over 35 miles per hour, not having any stop lights, not having any fast food or drive-throughs or chains, not being able to use a shopping mall as a form of entertainment. These are all things that really didn’t occur to us before we moved here. For some people, that’s part of the charm of being here. For others, that’s part of the reason why they leave a year or two later.

When we moved here in 2001, I bought a brand-new Jeep Wrangler with brand-new tires. That Wrangler now has 18,000 miles on it. And at least 4,000 of those are from two trips to Georgia.

• • •

I got a 35-millimeter film camera as my high school graduation present. I never took any classes or training—it was a hobby then . . . When we started having children, that was sort of an inspiration. Taking pictures of your kids is natural, but every time we’d have a kid—we have four kids—it would be an excuse to upgrade my camera equipment. Around the time we had baby number two and moved to Nantucket, the whole digital revolution was taking off and I got my first digital camera, which allows you to be much more experimental, you don’t have to worry about processing costs and so forth. Then the next big step for me and my photography was the inspiration of Nantucket.

Nantucket is a beautiful place—there is a lot of variety in its scenery, its historical architecture, the great isolated beaches in the shoulder seasons—yet it’s still a limited geographic area. There’s nothing on the island that hasn’t been photographed millions of times by millions of visitors over the years. Once you take a picture of Brant Point Lighthouse—you shoot it at sunrise, maybe get a picture of it in the winter—do you really need another picture of Brant Point Lighthouse? Because there isn’t that much variation, you run out of things to take pictures of. The thing you don’t run out of is the variation in our skies and light. Seasonally, the skies and seascapes are just so different looking. Nowadays, when I take photos, I think my subject really is that light. I end up using iconic Nantucket scenes just to shade the composition or give me some foreground for the sky, this golden light on the margins of the day.

I do enjoy film and there are times when you’ll see a well-made film photograph that’s hard to reproduce otherwise. But I’ve always been something of a geek when it comes to computers. Part of what I enjoy with digital photography is the back end of it as well: Getting a photograph out of the camera and trying to overcome the camera’s natural limitations and having a photograph that better represents what my eye saw. Even the best cameras in the world are no match for the dynamic focusing and exposing of the human eye.

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Jeff is the Managing Editor for Cape Cod Life Publications.

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