I first met Jonathan Kozowyk at Long Beach in the winter of 2002. It’s where my family and I laid our heads for awhile when we were between houses.
Jonathan and his brother, Christian, were living in the condo next door. We’d often bump into each other as I was loading my kids into the car to take them to school. The Kozowyk brothers usually had their surfboards in hand, as they were headed out to catch the morning swell.
Oddly, in the nearly 12 months that we all lived at Long Beach, the brothers and I never got around to talking much about work. If we had, we’d have quickly found out how much we had in common.
You see, the Kozowyk brothers are both commercial photographers, and I am a magazine designer. That, in the business world, is what we call a “synergistic relationship.”
We would later figure that all out and begin a fruitful collaboration that continues to this day. (And even to this page!)
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Jonathan Kozowyk is a Massachusetts native and an avid surfer — two things that don’t necessarily go together. But he swears there are waves here, you just have to know when and where to look.
Which does explain why this surf fanatic has spent so much time on Cape Ann.
In addition to the Long Beach rental, Jonathan spent about five years living in one of the most iconic buildings on Cape Ann: Beacon Marine Basin, a historic marine building that sits on pilings above the harbor in East Gloucester.
Back in 2004, on the advice of his friend Jason Grow (another Gloucester-based commercial photographer), Jonathan snapped up the Beacon Marine apartment that Grow’s babysitter had recently abandoned for a move to Ireland.
The small apartment (one bedroom, galley kitchen) came with “an amazing porch overlooking Rocky Neck, Smith Cove, and downtown Gloucester across the harbor,” said Kozowyk.
Jonathan confirms that the place is legendary for its somewhat rowdy past. “It has had its moments. I think there was a pretty heavy party scene back in the day. When I mention that I lived there, locals get a kind of knowing look on their faces,” he said.
“I had a few parties myself — they were mellow — but there are lots of stories out there about that place. I mostly remember some pretty great grilling sessions on my porch,” he says. “And the smell of the ocean, though on days when Gorton’s was cooking up their batter and the wind was out of the NW, there was a whole different flavor.”
Occasionally, even the fish around Beacon Marine would get in on the partying. “Sometimes, on quiet nights when the stripers were out and about, I would wake up to this crazy splashing sound of them feeding on bait fish just below our place,” Kozowyk remembers.
“There was also a gigantic seagull — one of those weathered-looking birds who’d clearly seen better days — that would land on my porch railing and stare at me through the window, like creepy-close to the glass, while I was working at my desk.”
There were tough times, too, like the day “some scumbag stole my bike from the hallway outside my apartment.”
“The craziest thing that happened there was the day I came home from a late winter/early spring surf and I noticed that there was a ton of smoke billowing from one section of the dock. I noticed some little flames coming up from the spaces between the planks, so I grabbed one of the boat hoses, and just started soaking the area. Then I lifted up the planks that were smoking and saw that there were even more that were smoldering on the underside. I was freaking out! It must have looked bizarre to anybody watching. I was still wearing my hooded winter wetsuit, boots, and gloves, with a bathrobe over it all (because who wants wet car seats?). But I got it under control before there was any serious damage.”
I asked Jonathan if he’d do it again, given the chance. “Yes, definitely. It was a great experience. The people were mostly great, and those sunsets! The whole apartment would turn this incredible bright red-orange.”
These photographs are part of a personal project that Jonathan Kozowyk began shooting in 2008.
Jonathan Kozowyk is a commercial photographer based in Boston and New York. Patrick Mitchell is the founder & content director of TheOtherCape.com