As the rains from José pounded on the windows of N Magazine’s North Beach Street office last week – where we sat warm and dry, thanking the heavens for our comfortable desk jobs – local resident and photographer Lauren Marttila braved the high winds and hit the beach. A lover of surf and wave photography, Marttila is completely in her element when the weather takes a turn, and can consistently be found chasing storms around Nantucket for the perfect shot. Given the recent weather surge, we decided to check in with Marttila to see what keeps her coming back for more, storm after storm.
N MAGAZINE: Hurricane José is the most recent storm to hit the shores of Nantucket… how did it compare to other hurricanes you’ve experienced on island as a photographer?
MARTTILA: It lasted longer than most storms! Boats and planes were canceled for days. The devastation caused by recent hurricanes in other places kept things in perspective though. We were fortunate. And the surf was fantastic, so all of the surfers were stoked.
N MAGAZINE: You’ve also photographed some pretty spectacular snowstorms. Can you talk a little about the difference between being out on the beach in a hurricane and being out there in a blizzard?
MARTTILA: The sound. During a blizzard, even if the winds are really loud when you’re at home, when you get to the beach it seems quiet. Also, the water does crazy things. One of my favorite photographs, “Sea Smoke,” was taken when my husband was surfing at Nobadeer. The temperature outside was -2 degrees. Even though the ocean was cold, the air was so much colder and as the bitterly cold air moved over the comparatively warmer water – sea smoke!
N MAGAZINE: What is the worst storm you’ve experienced on Nantucket?
MARTTILA: A few winters ago, the storms just kept coming – by March it was no longer a novelty. We even had a blizzard on April 1st. I think the worst storms are the ones that keep you inside. Luckily, storms of that magnitude are pretty rare on this island.
N MAGAZINE: What keeps you going back out there, storm after storm?
MARTTILA: I love having the chance to capture the island from a perspective that not everyone gets to see, and then sharing the photos so people can feel like they are experiencing it too. That and because my husband surfs; during a majority of the storms I am taking pictures of him surfing.
N MAGAZINE: What items do you never leave home without when heading out in a storm?
MARTTILA: I wish I could say I have a “to-go-bag,” but it is always very spontaneous. I never leave without my camera, my phone (I like to share the experience as we drive around, which usually includes some fantastic singing in the car), something with a hood, and in the winter, gloves – cold hands are the #1 killer of epic photo sessions!