ROCKLAND—The Rockland Breakwater in all of its 4,364 feet of granite glory is a spectacular sight and experience for first-time visitors. But, like all landmarks frequently visited, it can fade into the background of everyday life, until a photography book comes along to remind you just how majestic it is—and always has been.
Author Bob Trapani is releasing his fifth book, Breakwater: A Journey Through The Seasons, in November.
A writer and visual storyteller, Trapani found himself drawn back to the Breakwater over and over again when he first began taking photographs of it in 2009.
“I’ve photographed it in all four seasons and the more I visited it, the more I started to realize there is so much more to this place than meets the eye so I knew I had to document it,” he said. “It’s probably one of the only spots I know of in Maine where you can go out to sea without leaving land.”
The 108-color photographs in the book each tell a microcosm of a story. There are so many elements that people are drawn to: the 7/8-mile-long granite walkway, the lighthouse at the end, the proximity to a working harbor, even the wildlife that can be seen from that vantage point.
“The different kinds of maritime traffic is one element to it,” he said. “Next to the Portland harbor, I can’t think of a more diverse Maine harbor with all of the working vessels, the ferry and windjammers. You will sometimes even be able to see lobstermen up close as they work. The other surprise element is the marine life. From sandpipers to seals to fish swimming along the Breakwater, it’s amazing how many things you can see there.”
The book has plenty of beautiful shots in the summer and fall, particularly shots of sunrises and sunsets, but it’s the winter photos that provide some of the most dramatic material.
“There’s plenty of weather in this book: sea smoke, rain, ice, and snow,” he said. “The Breakwater takes on a whole new personality in the wintertime. Even just walking out there, the wind coming out of the Northeast biting your face, in those harsh conditions, there’s beauty and that’s what I tried to bring out.”
There were times, as his photographs show, that walking out on the Breakwater was even too dangerous to attempt. “During some astronomical high tides; sometimes the tide was 18 inches above the Breakwater,” he said. “And when a good Northeast storm comes in, when those seas hit that Breakwater, that thundering sound is almost shocking.”
Six months into a pandemic, the recommendation from many experts is to keep going outside, keep exercising, and staying present in the moment, something the Rockland Breakwater affords in nearly all seasons.
“It is a release to walk it, especially at this point in the year,” said Trapani. “Even if other people are walking it, you are able to get a sense of solitude. It allows you to disconnect from all of the craziness in the world and at the same time, it makes you appreciate what a beautiful spot we live in. The Rockland Breakwater really does create a unique sense of place in Midcoast Maine.”
In all of the years Trapani has been going out to observe the Breakwater, he has seen his fair share of “regulars”—some who walk it every single day. “People’s emotional ties to the Breakwater are as varied as the marine traffic going by,” he said.
His book also includes a brief history of the lighthouse and the Breakwater. The book will be available for purchase the first week of November through Moments in Maine by visiting shop.momentsinmaine.com or calling 207-691-8400.