LONG BEACH ISLAND'S COLORFUL HISTORY — AS YOU'VE NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE
In this uniquely different look at Long Beach Island’s past, historic black and white photographs, carefully hand-colored, are paired with fascinating historical descriptions, quotes, and short passages. We see anew the colorful characters, rich stories, and lost landmarks of a vibrant Jersey Shore community. Blurring the lines between a fine art coffee-table book and a history, Local Color is like visiting a gallery exhibition.
New life is breathed into the moments and lives of the LBI’s past and we enter a colorful world long gone.
Local Color

Long Beach Island's
Photographic History
Reimagined

Color • Leslee Ganss
Words • Ray Fisk

“...Brings to life the colorful history of a barrier island, its people and environs, from the 1870s through the 1980s... Appealing to the Island's curious newcomers and generations-long loyalists... Enchanting.”

—The SandPaper

“The results are striking and memorable.

—New Jersey Monthly

9.25’’ x 8.25’’ hardcover,
288 pages, 145 hand-colored images,
bibliography, index.
Library of Congress Control No. 2021940941
ISBN 978-1-59322-124-9
$36.00

Local Color presents, in a gallery-like format, historic Long Beach Island photographs that have been lovingly restored and hand-colored. The 145 historic images of the Island come alive with color, and are paired with short textual vignettes — descriptions, quotations, and brief excerpts — to give the images context. It’s vibrant local history that resurrects an earlier, simpler world at the Shore.

“In selecting the images for hand-coloring, we were constantly drawn to scenes that revealed daily activities without pretense — the seashore jobs and working life, the silly and frivolous, the summer fun. Landmarks like lighthouses and the old hotels are here, along with vanished wetlands, wild beaches, and the aftermath of coastal storms.

“We wanted to find a way of presenting our history with new vibrance, one that still gives a soulful and honest sense of place. We wanted to do this with an integrity that respects the original image and respects the people captured in the image — to show the humanity of this place.”
— from the Introduction

double page folio from the book
from the INTRODUCTION

A picture is worth a thousand words, the old adage goes.

But what happens when photographs are so commonplace that they lose their meaning and their value is just another click? What happens when images become background noise? In this age when we’re drowning in images and media, and apps can make every cellphone photo appear interesting, how do we find authenticity?

As a publisher who has worked with historic images for nearly four decades, that’s the challenge we’re trying to meet with this book. The Long Beach Island photographs published here reveal lives and moments from a world that no longer exists. How do we transport ourselves back into those lives and moments? How do we get to a place where we can actually feel that world?

In our earlier books about Island history, old pictures were only starting to emerge in public from yellowing albums and dusty attics; they hadn’t been widely shared beyond family and neighbors. Readers would pore over those pages, absorbing stories and imagining — through never-before-seen photos — a younger Island.

The digital world has altered our perceptions about images. We’re a bit jaded. We see a steady stream of photos — online, in messages, Facebook groups, Instagram, and other social media. All too frequently they’re presented without context — without the story that could enlighten us. At times inaccurate history is attached to old photos. Historic images are also employed to persuade, to sell, to convince us that a business or product has deep roots and is connected to our shared past. Sadly, the visual content becomes devalued.

We wanted to break free of that; to find a way to present our history with new vibrance, yet still give a soulful and honest sense of place. To make it easily discovered despite our limited attention. To breathe new life into historic photos even if we’ve seen them elsewhere. We wanted to do this with an integrity that respects the original image and respects the people captured in that image — to show the humanity of this place.

In Local Color, carefully selected historic photographs have been hand-colored; we present them with brief descriptions, short excerpts or quotes distilled from decades of publishing local history. The authors of these passages and those they quote give context and hopefully enhance the feeling evoked by the photograph.

The photographs and words are presented as if in a gallery, so readers can linger on a scene, one at a time. The chronology is roughly by decade, somewhat overlapping, encompassing a little over a century from the late 1870s to the early 1980s.

This was an era of black and white film, and the original photographs in this book were all made on film or glass plates. We’ve added color — by hand, mostly on a computer — making very human and deliberate decisions about every detail. Decisions about elements like color, shading or hue are based on experiences living here, immersed in the Shore and its history. It’s an honest and informed hand-coloring, not performed by an algorithm or app, a process that took place over several years.

In selecting the images, we were constantly drawn to scenes that revealed daily activities without pretense — the seashore jobs and working life, the silly and frivolous, the summer fun. Landmarks like lighthouses and the old hotels are here, along with vanished wetlands, wild beaches, and the aftermath of coastal storms. The images are mostly casual, everyday photographs, the kind you find in family albums. We’ve included many of the earliest photographs used to promote the new Island communities, some by Robert F. Engle, a professional trained at the turn of the last century who was son of the founder of the Engleside Hotel. Others, from mid-century, are by the prolific Bill Kane, who sold them at his shop, the Nor’easter in Beach Haven Terrace. The photographers are no longer with us, but we’re fortunate to have their work, a monochrome legacy that documents Long Beach Island’s past.

...The timeframe here — when most photographs were black and white, when photography was not easy and commonplace — is also a time when individual photographs were treasured. It’s an era that aligns with the founding of Beach Haven as a summer resort and a century of growth and change on Long Beach Island.
We hope you can appreciate these photographs as if they were just found in one of those yellowing albums in a dusty attic, with new life animating them and your connection to Long Beach Island full.

P.O. Box 100, West Creek, New Jersey 08092
e-mail downshore@gmail.com
phone (609) 812-5076 • fax (609) 812-5098
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