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LIFE’s Canvas: Bobby Baker’s art is a monochromatic symphony

Music to His Eyes

Photographer Bobby Baker finds his rhythm along the Cape’s shores

Music, as described by Sam Elliot’s character Bobby in the 2018 remake of “A Star is Born,” is essentially 12 notes between any octave, then the octave repeats. “All any artist can offer,” he says, “is how they see those 12 notes.”

When it comes to photography, all a photographer can offer is how they see the world before them. It may be the same scene photographed time and time again, but it’s depicted each time from the unique perspective of the photographer behind the lens.

For Bobby Baker, his photography is about telling a story—the story of how he sees Cape Cod, of how he feels in any given moment surrounded by the inspiring seascapes he holds dear. As a result, Baker captures the Cape—from Nobska Light to First Encounter Beach—in remarkable fashion. His black-and-white images are iconic, in the same way as noted photographer Ansel Adams’ are. While Baker’s images are in one sense straightforward in their sense of place, they are also strikingly nuanced, and visceral, depicting both the Cape’s delicacy and strength. 

“Rock Harbor Reflections”

“I feel that I’m gifted with an eye that sees things maybe others don’t at times. I just lock into that,” he says. Baker explains that what he strives for in his work is an emotional connection. “There are so many times, whether it’s on the beach or anywhere else, that I’m thinking, this is just amazing, will I be able to create this piece so it translates to somebody else… If they get an inkling of the feeling I have right now, it’s something special; if it’s something more than that, it’s a home run.”

Photography has long been a part of Baker’s life. He first discovered a passion for the craft in the late ’70s. While working as a touring musician—he played bass, keyboard and the trombone for Vegas-style show bands—he took a job as an assistant to an event photographer in Palm Beach, Florida. “He took me under his wing, started teaching me all of the basics of photography,” Baker recalls. “I got my first real camera then—an Olympus OM-1n, which I still have. I fell in love with photography—it was film photography then—and I kept getting better and better.”

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