Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Infinite Possibilities of a Single Pier

Wooden Fishing Pier, 2011

One of the great advantages of being mindful of your surroundings is that you can go to the same place and see different things depending on the time of day or the day of the year.

The Wooden Fishing Pier in the resort area of Virginia Beach is one of those places. Its name probably doesn’t need the adjective wooden any more because the Steel Pier that used to share the resort area oceanfront and that necessitated a distinction between the two, has been gone for nearly thirty years. But that’s what we older-timers call it.

It’s actually kind of ironic that the sturdy steel pier that could withstand most anything the Atlantic Ocean could hurl at it was the pier to be taken down. The Wooden Pier, by comparison, bends and creaks with the waves and has to be repaired periodically when winter storms knock it apart.

Fishing piers are pretty straightforward photographic subjects. Most people tend to emphasize the pilings, the long leading lines and the diminishing perspective. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s just that you’ve seen it a hundred times before.

As these pictures show, I’ve taken my fair share of pictures of the Wooden Pier that emphasize the pilings, the long lines and the diminishing perspective. But in recent years I’ve tended to use the pier as more of a framing device for some other perspectives rather than as the primary subject.

One of my favorite pictures taken at the Wooden Fishing Pier is the one below that shows the kids playing on the beach. This was taken during the winter of 2003. This was one of those right-place-at-the-right time photo opportunities. If I’d been looking south rather than north, or out to the surf rather than at the beach, I’d have missed it. The kids had been playing further up on the beach and only for that brief moment captured in this scene had they run down to the water’s edge.

The picture at the top of this post, on the other hand, was taken just the other day. It’s a cliché shot, one that I might have thrown away for its lack of story. But each time I looked at it the blue of the sky and the green of the water won my heart.

A Child’s Christmas on the Beach, 2003

The Tat Perspective, 2009

Fall Sunrise at the Wooden Pier, 2007

Under the Pier, 2008


  1. I miss that wobbly, crooked pier.

  2. Not only do you have to be at the right place at the right time, but you have to have your camera with you, know what settings are needed for that great shot and, know just when to take the picture. And then, of course, knowing that its the one. That's why you are a great photographer!