Bryan Coppede explores the art and craft of yacht building


One of the things that particularly floats Brooklyn-based Photographer Bryan Coppede’s boat is telling stories of artisan excellence. He had always wanted to photograph the craftspeople who build and restore boats—but not just any run-of-the-mill fiberglass boats. Bryan dreamt of being a fly on the wall in a traditional, hand-crafted yacht workshop—seeing and documenting the art of turning humble planks into masterfully designed ocean-going vessels. So, he set his sights on Artisan Boatworks, one of the most revered builders in the business. When the company gave him the nod, they set one condition: be a fly on the wall! Meaning no lights, no posing, no interrupting the flow and tightly paced timing of the work. So, Bryan packed two cameras and a few favorite lenses and headed up to Maine. Although he loves doing shoots with detailed planning, scouting, blocking, and lighting, he’s equally happy drawing on his background as a documentary photographer to shoot what the moment presents. “You have to stay really present—and really open to seeing the stories that want to be told,” he says. At Artisan Boatworks the story that surprised him the most was that the crew was younger, hipper, and more of a mix of women and men than the “grizzled-old-man Down East boat builder” stereotype he was expecting. “What makes these folks so cool,” he says, “is that they aren’t just builders. They’re artists.”