Kristen Swain Photography



new england families, COUPLEs, and landscapes

Piping plover chick looking directly at camera with blurred ocean in background

Explore the Wild Beauty of Nantucket in My Print Shop or the Dreamland Theater!


May 25, 2023


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Hi there! Welcome to the KSP blog, a journal about photography, business, and pursuing your passion. Stay a while and say hello!



Okay, it’s still a little chilly out there to be calling it summer, but nevertheless my summer photo season on Nantucket begins today! I am so looking forward to seeing many of you over the coming months – I know it’s going to be a great season and I’m excited to share my love of photography with you.

If you’re looking for some fun weekend plans, you can stop by the Nantucket Photographer’s Network show at the Dreamland on Friday evening (5/26). I will be amongst several photographers showing and selling my work in support of the local nonprofit Addiction Solutions of Nantucket. There will be refreshments and a cash bar, so come enjoy yourself while you peruse some beautiful artwork.

The photos I’ll be sharing – along with many other favorite pieces of mine – are all available in my print shop. My passion for wildlife and nature around New England is abundantly on display in these photos, and are beautifully displayed using only the highest-quality print materials. I’d like to use this post to share some of my favorites with you, and the stories behind them.

Sankaty Lighthouse Series

One could argue that Sankaty Lighthouse is one of, if not the most iconic Nantucket landmark; anyone who’s ever visited the island will recognize it immediately (it also happens to be a great place for family photos!). My Sankaty Series celebrates this red and white beauty and the variation in its character in different light and weather conditions.

The lighthouse itself is a feat; it was built in 1849, and stands 158 feet above sea level. Maintaining watch on the lighthouse was no easy task; a watchman and his assistant would rotate four-hour shifts around the clock in order to maintain the oil lamp. From 1850 to 1944, the lighthouse was home to the watchmen and their families, until upkeep was taken over by the Coast Guard, which manages the structure and beacon to this day.

The sheer fact that the lighthouse has not succumbed to erosion and fallen into the sea is a miracle in and of itself; almost 200 feet of the bluff Sankaty stands on has been eaten away by the sea and weather since it was built. As a result, it teetered on the edge of the bluff for many years, before the ‘Sconset Trust in 2007 undertook the incredible effort of moving the entire lighthouse over 400 feet from its original standing, to keep it safely away from the edge of the bluff.

We are incredibly lucky that this beautiful structure is not only restored, but maintained to an immaculate degree. Sankaty still marks the island for sailors today and can be seen 25 miles into the sea (albeit, it now runs on electricity, not a whale oil lamp). It is truly the shining light of Nantucket. You’ll be able to see a large framed print of “Standout,” one of my favorite landscape photographs depicting the Lighthouse, at the Nantucket Photographers’ Network show on Friday evening.

Conservation Series

My Conservation Series documents my appreciation for the island’s interior and the efforts by the local conservation community to preserve Nantucket’s open spaces and trails. “Emerge,” one of my favorite pieces that I shot for this series, will also be on display at the Dreamland show this weekend. I’ve printed this foggy beauty on a 32×48 inch stretched canvas and had it mounted inside a gold float frame. This piece is a great example of how the interior of Nantucket can sometimes resemble parts of Africa. (When my sister first saw this piece she thought I’d taken it on our safari in South Africa a few years ago.)

Emerge and other photographs in the Conservation series were taken at Sanford Farm, which is one of my favorite places on the island to go for a long walk with our two golden retrievers, Hudson and Brody. You can walk the trails of Sanford Farm all the way from Madaket Road to the ocean, if you have time and are up for a good walk (it’s about six miles!).

As you can see from the photographs, when conditions are just right, the hills around Sanford trap the fog as it surrounds the landscape, making for a stunning display (and a photographer’s dream). This is also a fantastic spot for a photo session – especially if you’re looking for a warmer, golden tone to your photos and a change from the ever-popular beach sessions.

A portion of the sales from these pieces – and all of the Nantucket photographs in my collections — will be donated to the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, which helps keep landscapes, critters, and trails alive and well through research, habitat stewardship, and trail development, so that everyone can enjoy our beautiful island for a long, long time. With dozens of properties maintained by the foundation, thanks to their hard work, we can enjoy miles and miles of scenic trails with dazzling natural beauty.

Piping Plover Series

If you don’t know what the Piping Plover is, I’ll begin by saying they’re one of the most adorable birds living in New England. They are teeny tiny shoreline nesters, and usually born in the beginning of the summer, so there’s a chance you could spot some chicks soon if you’re lucky! These little darlings are endangered, but the Nantucket Conservation Foundation goes to great lengths to protect them, and as a result they’re making a comeback: in 2020, the foundation counted 57 breeding pairs of Plovers, up from only 42 in 2019. (Fun fact: One summer when he was in college, my husband Tim worked for one of the island’s conservation organizations helping track, count, and protect the plovers! He drove out to Smith Point every day for work and trekked up and down the beach by foot, looking for plover nests, counting the chicks, and scaring away predators.) The habitats of these little birds are constantly changing due to erosion and disturbance, but luckily Nantucket’s dunes, beach grass, and shores are still able to provide suitable breeding areas for the birds to populate.

In my Plover Series, I wanted to document their beauty, fragility, and gentleness (and incredible fluffiness!). I’m so happy I got to capture these chicks in their sandy homes, with their round fluffy bodies atop skinny twiglike legs. They are truly some of the most beautiful birds on the island.

That’s all for now, folks; I hope to see you all this weekend! It’s going to be a wonderful event that supports a good cause. The show begins at 5 PM, and admission is completely free – stroll on in, bring a friend, and enjoy the art that Nantucket has to offer.

A quick reminder that you can book HERE for June, August, and September Nantucket family sessions. The photos from these sessions make amazing gifts (and holiday cards!) and will surely be a lasting memory!

  1. […] before that it was actually wildlife photography that first attracted me to the art!)  In my last post, I showcased some pieces from my Conservation Series and Piping Plover Series, and I will certainly […]

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