A Taste of SURF+TURF:Montauk with Lenslady Car Pelleteri

I have absolutely no idea how I stumbled upon Car Pelleteri and her SURF+TURF:Montauk photobook. It must have involved the Google search bar and the words “incredible photos of Montauk.” However, after tapping the enter key, I found remarkably more than a few awesome photos of Montauk. What I found was Car’s photo and interview book that features Montauk’s finest. Most notably, Car had managed to shoot and speak with a lot of the Montauk locals that avoid the spotlight — a handful of them being the ones that usually take the photos or write the words themselves. Admittedly, Car’s not from Montauk, but her appreciation for the place and its people shines so true and proper through her work, that it’d be difficult to tell.

Above you will find 11 handpicked photos from Car’s book — take a second to breathe in their uniqueness. And below, you’ll find a short interview with Car that provides some rad insight as to what inspired her to take on and publish this project (while pregnant).

Alright, first off, who you is? A human? A photographer? From where?

I am a sensitive human who was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. My obsession with imagery began in my elementary years, later turning me into a photographer.

Off-topic question: what’s you favorite flavor of ice cream?

I LOVE ice cream. Hate favorites because I never have just one. Maple walnut, vanilla swiss almond & chocolate brownie…pistachio… mint chip!

Your SURF+TURK:MONTAUK book does a damn lovely job of showcasing our favorite East End village. What inspired you to shoot and interview Montauk and its people?

There’s so much about Montauk that is inspiring. First, the natural raw beauty of its landscape, the sea and the people. I was very curious to know more about them and what it was like to either be born and raised there or a local for decades.  I thought they were lucky. I grew up near the sea but Montauk is gorgeous and wildly different. In 2012 I saw Montauk changing. Fast. From casual conversations with former manager Connie Keller at East Deck I thought about shooting new portraits and then my idea literally grew overnight into the project to create the book. I see the book as a time capsule of a collaborative effort between me and some of Montauk’s finest.

Can you recall your favorite moment or a wild experience you had while you were working on the book?

I loved being down at the docks, shooting inside Gosman’s — the guys filleting the fish. Photographing everyone  — Lil’ Anthony, Pat, Ted, George, Asa, The Beckwiths and John Scheu  (may John be resting in peace) — down by the town dock was so exciting and yet peaceful. But, every single person in the book gave me fond memories. Every interaction, whether it was 30 minutes or 3+ hours was special to me.

Were there any shots or interviews you missed out on that you wish you could have featured?

Many interviews and portraits. I never quite completed my list. Fran Ecker, Frank Tuma, Carl Darenberg (another unfortunate RIP) to name a few. I wanted to keep going but stopped due to my exciting new pregnancy at that time By the way, I was pregnant and tired yet determined when I photographed some of the people in the book. My husband helped me realize that I already had enough material for a solid book.

Montauk seems to have changed a ton since your book was published. Have you been able to visit and take in its growth and how different things are now?

Of course I was very sad when my favorite place to stay, East Deck, closed. Then I heard more favorites — Duryea’s sold, along with Shagwong. East Deck was the first place I stayed at in 2000, Shagwong, my first dinner that same year. In a nutshell, I’m happy I got to document who and what I did, when I did. Montauk is not the same and change is inevitable. Thing is, I personally really enjoy a mix of the old and new. The last thing I want to do is visit a place where every business is fake, shiny and new with a new brief history. There’s nothing romantic about this. History is romantic and beautiful. Right now I’m so busy with my son Leo… he’s been to Montauk 3 times already. Lucky boy! We’re in Florida now. I’d love to visit you all again soon. Drinks at The Montauket? Coffee at the Ditch bench?

Alright, if you could shoot one person’s portrait (Montauk-related or not), who would it be and why?

Ray Liotta. I like the intensity of his face. Lauren Hutton, she is just spectacular. I met her once outside an old photo printing job on Lafayette Street in NYC… I was excited and a bit wowed. After photographing her, I’d want to hang out, get lunch or something.

For all of our readers that now dig you and your photography — any projects in the work we should keep an eye out for?

There’s a bit of experimenting going on over here, so TBA. I’m also working on getting my drivers license — I’m a true New Yorker.

If you find Car and her work to be as interesting as we do, feel free to stay in the loop via her…

Thanks Car!