Photojournalist Robert de Gast (1936–2016) created compelling photographic portraits and poetic text documenting the Chesapeake Bay and its Eastern Shore which he felt “is distinguished by a quiet, insinuating beauty, rather than by grandiose and overwhelming scenery.”
Born in The Hague, the Netherlands, on October 10, 1936, de Gast immigrated to America with his family at the age of 17. He enlisted in the U.S. Army, which trained him in photography. After working briefly for National Geographic in Washington and photographer Marion Warren in Annapolis, de Gast became an independent photographer and photojournalist. Assignments from The Skipper magazine and U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings led him to cover a variety of maritime subjects.
In 1970, after following the fishery for a year, he published The Oystermen of the Chesapeake Bay, a black-and-white photographic study followed by de Gast’s own brief essays. Two books of photography and prose followed, with The Lighthouses of the Chesapeake (1973) and Western Wind, Eastern Shore: A Sailing Cruise around the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia (1975).
Robert de Gast’s Chesapeake features these three important elements of his Bay portfolio: the work of the oystermen, lighthouses, and his explorations of the Chesapeake’s shoreline—particularly as a solo sailor.
Robert de Gast’s Chesapeake, runs through April 8, 2018, and features 80 photographs curated from more than 10,000 in the collection of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.