CUMBERLAND — In his poem “My Lost Youth,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow referred to Portland as “the beautiful town that is seated by the sea.” And in his new book “Portland: The City by the Sea,” William Hubbell of Cumberland seeks to capture that adulation with an array of his own photographs.
The hardcover Commonwealth Editions book contains about 175 photos, from quaint to modern buildings, from the booming arts community to the gritty, but charming working port.
“What I was really wanting to get at was a record of the city as it is today, but including as much as I could of what makes it what it is today,” Hubbell said last week
Hubbell, whose career spans more than four decades and includes work for National Geographic and The New York Times, said he is always looking at the sky.
“That’s the source of my light,” he said. “And a day without clouds is a day that I generally leave the camera at home. … I try to minimize blue skies. I don’t trust a book that only has blue-sky pictures.”
In organizing the photos for the book, Hubbell said his first goal was to exclude vehicles that could be identified by model year, since that would quickly date the book. He sought to capture Portland at all times of day and night.
This is the ninth book for which Hubble was responsible for at least the illustrations. Past titles include: “Safe Harbor,” featuring photos of sheltered bays and coves; “Good Fences,” with pictures of historic stone walls, and “The Seasons of Maine.”
He said it was “getting to know the people” of Portland that inspired him to undertake this endeavor.
“The Christmas decorations in Deering Oaks Park are not paid for by the city, but rather the Friends of Deering Oaks,” Hubbell said. “… It’s a city that is so manageable, still. … The geography of the city is so exciting to me, because the forefathers were smart enough to reserve the East End and the West End, and that access to the breezes and the open air permeates the whole city. If it were walled in by high-rise apartment buildings, taking advantage of their views, it would be a dreary place. And we’re blessed.”
“Portland: The City by the Sea” can be purchased through commonwealtheditions.com and is also available at Borders in South Portland, Longfellow Books in Portland and at the Book Review in Falmouth.
“I would hope that (readers) would be stimulated to come and visit, if they aren’t here already,” Hubbell said. “And if they’re here, I hope they learn something that they didn’t know before.”
Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.