Distinctively Nantucket: Sam Hill, Nantucket Photographer

Nantucket photographer, Sam Hill, came to Nantucket in 1974 and fell in love with the island. He fell in love with Nantucket’s natural beauty and landscape so much that he decided to make it home in 1979. The beauty of the island is shown in his photography as he has an eye for natural lighting and colors. Pictures above are some of his favorite photos.

What is your Nantucket story? When and how did you arrive on island? 

I came to Nantucket in 1974 for the first time on my honeymoon and stayed at The Moby Dick Cottages in ‘Sconset, now known as The Summer House. That was a wonderful first impression of Nantucket and is a story all in itself. The family visited Nantucket often after that, both in the summer and the off-season. In 1976 my father-in-law bought a lot by Hummock Pond in Cisco. We came down for the whole summer season. We camped and built a house for him. Some people will recall the two 24-foot diameter white teepees we erected on the site in Cisco that you could see for miles across the moors. We returned in 1977 and finished the interior of the house. Finally, there was a Nantucket house for the family. We always hated leaving Nantucket and ended up moving here year round in 1979. I went to work at The Sanford Boat Company building the Alerions you see today moored by Brant Point Lighthouse, which is one of my favorite scenes for photography. After a year I took a job building houses for another contractor for a few years. In 1982, I went on my own and formed a construction company until I retired from that to pursue photography and digital arts.

What is your favorite part of living on Nantucket? 

My favorite part of living on Nantucket is that we are not on the interstate grid. The island, especially years ago, had a feeling of living in a European village because we are not part of the highway system. I always loved that I could drive five minutes in either direction and be at a beach. 

When did you first take up photography? What is part of your inspiration?

Originally, I took up photography in the early 2000s when we got one of the first digital cameras to take pictures for construction. The four AA batteries would take about four pictures and then need to be changed. I got a better camera a few years later that had a battery that would last and it had a built-in zoom lens and was 5 megapixels.

Do you have a favorite photo? Can you share? 

I have many and they change but there are favorites of each theme.

What is your ideal Nantucket day?

It is a day with a photoshoot where I can’t wait to download the pictures. Whether it is photographing surfers out in hurricane waves, shooting Figawi sailboat racing, Snowy Owls, Great Blue Herons and Egrets, or a day with the Fiddler Crabs of Coskata Pond. The connection to Nantucket nature from photography is so creatively inspiring that there are sometimes not enough hours in a day. Nantucket is like a different town when you leave the construction and its seasonal deadlines. On Nantucket, you have the ability to see the baby goslings and cygnets and the return of the ospreys and oystercatchers, and so on.

What are some of your favorite spots and times of year to capture Nantucket?

The Barn Owls often appear this time of year before dark, out behind Bartlett’s Farm in the Cisco area. They are hungry even though they are nocturnal.

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