Blog

Tom Wood, Shrimp Net Repairman

I had a recent photo assignment that sent me down to Freeport, Texas, about an hour south of Houston, where I live. While the story I shot for is an important one (and will subsequently will be published this Friday), being back in Freeport brought back memories from ten years ago, when I was a staff photographer at The (Brazosport) Facts. At the time, most of what I shot was newspaper fare: car wrecks, parades, high school athlete portraits. I could sense there was a deeper narrative to the place, basically built from the ground up around World War II to help process magnesium for the war effort. From that industry sprouted dozens of chemical refineries throughout the area. This evolved side by side with the shrimping industry. While photographing the chemical refineries is something that is typically done from the side of the road (and even then, a photographer will be asked questions and have his license plate recorded by a plant security guard), the shrimp dock in Freeport is much more accessible. According to Tom Wood, of Tom's Net Shop, the canal where the shrimp boats dock used to overflow with hundreds of ships. The one shrimp processing facility, I was told, started making drastic cuts for the price it paid for shrimp, and a great deal of the shrimpers eventually started docking elsewhere. Now that there is new ownership at the processing facility, it's thought by Wood that the docks may someday revive to their former glory. I photographed Tom Wood at his net repair shop as well as a few other areas that looked compelling. I used a Hasselblad to force me to slow down and take a closer look at the area. I look forward to returning to the area soon to explore the dock and Freeport soon.