Dan Smith

Dan Smith is a photographer and filmmaker from Durham, NC.  Raised in a rural community outside Durham, Dan spent the better-part of a decade in Washington, D.C., as a national security policy analyst, before returning to his hometown, to marry and start a family, in 2006. From 2007 – 20014, he served as Assistant Director of Programs at the Duke University Center for International Studies. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from the George Washington University and received his MFA from Duke University in Experimental and Documentary Arts this past May.  Predominantly self-taught, since 1992, he has photographed a broad range of subject-matter, ranging from professional and amateur athletics, landscapes, catalog products, architecture, professional motorsports, international aviation events, the changing nature of southern culture and the human figure.  Dan’s photographs and films are part of the permanent collection at the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University and are included in numerous private collections. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Revista Samuel, and Clear Nude, amongst others. Today we share his work, A Mess of Feesh.

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A Mess of Feesh

Since February 2015, Dan Smith has documented the story of Eddie Willis, his wife Alison, their three year old daughter, Maggie and the dozens of family, friends and employees who work with them. Eddie, a fourth generation Harkers Island fisherman and Alison, currently appointed to the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission, are leading the effort to change the business model of how fishermen in North Carolina process and sell their catch, employing traditional fishing methods that have been passed down for generations amongst fishermen along the Core Sound.

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During this time, they have been embroiled in an ongoing political battle between the recreational and commercial fishing industries over the size of and science behind North Carolina’s population of Southern Flounder. All the while, Maggie makes a playground of her parents’ fish market and community supported fishery—her inheritance, as soon as she is old enough to run a boat of her own.

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The resulting photographic and motion image work, A Mess of Feesh touches on the multigenerational role of traditional aquaculture in coastal North Carolina and the global/local nature of the environmental, social and economic pressures weighing on the state’s last surviving traditional cultural industry.

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To view more of Dan’s work, please visit his website.