Peter Ralston has photographed the coast of Maine since 1978, drawn especially to the people and working communities that define coastal Maine’s character.
My photographs are my statement.
I don’t pretend or aspire to be terribly intellectual about what I do. I just poke around the nooks and crannies of this coast, always with my camera. That’s about it. I’m not overly concerned about what I’m doing being considered “fine art.” As far as I’m concerned, I’m just storytelling albeit straight from the heart. These are the places I’ve been and people I’ve met, and sometimes there’s metaphor not far beneath the surface.
Peter Ralston grew up in Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania, worked for a decade as a freelance photojournalist, and then began photographing the coast of Maine in 1978, drawn especially to the working communities that define the coast’s enduring character.
Instrumental in forming the Island Institute in 1983, Peter Ralston served as its executive vice-president until 2010. Until then he contributed most of the photography and served as art director for the Institute's Island Journal since its inception. He continues to spend as much time as he possibly can on and around islands.
His work has been reproduced in many books and magazines, featured repeatedly on network television and has been exhibited in galleries, collections and museums throughout the United States and abroad.
In 2003 Peter was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree at Colby College for his photography as well as his role as co-founder of the Island Institute.
Peter and his wife, Terri, opened Ralston Gallery in Rockport, Maine, in 2011, selling his photographs as well as the work of his lifelong friends, Andrew and Jamie Wyeth. He is currently working on a major book about the Maine coast.
Although, as a young man, Ralston studied very briefly under Ansel Adams, he acknowledges the greater artistic influence of a lifetime of association with the Wyeths – close friends and incisive mentors.
Service, Past & Present
Island Institute - Co-founder & Executive VP
Island Journal - Art Director
Farnsworth Art Museum - Trustee
Maine Media Workshops & College - Founding Trustee
Herring Gut Learning Center - Trustee
Maine Lighthouse Museum - Founding Trustee
Maine Coast Artists - Trustee
Maine Film Commission - Member
After a six-year hiatus following a serious medical event in 1997, Peter didn’t pick up a camera for six years. You can read about that, and much more, in the article In a New Light, and watch the video in Peter’s Eye (below). New Work is what Peter calls most of his photographs made since January, 2004; they are an open edition of 17 x 22 inch prints.
In 2009 Peter was approached by an independent film company that wanted to make a 16-minute documentary short about how he works. That effort, Peter’s Eye, was accepted into the Camden International Film Festival in 2011.
The award-winning book Sightings was published in 1997 by Downeast Books and included photographs from the coast of Maine and working island communities. Although the book is sold out, a selection of the images within its pages are still available as limited edition prints, printed on 17 x 22 inch sheets. A number of these are now completely sold out.