The Cold Bitter End

Montauk, New York is known for lots of things—but a destination for winter usually is not one of them. And that’s fine. Winter in Montauk is far from beach time with the family, drinks on the porch with friends, bathing suits, suntans, bonfires, s’mores and sandy feet into the night.

That thinking would be correct if someone only visited from June through August. But what happens in Montauk for the colder months out of the year—when just the locals are left to work and go about their daily lives—is a special time not often shared with the outside world.

I’ve spent 33 winters in this small town at the end of Long Island and loved all of them. I love everything that comes with it—the anticipation of blizzards, the dark cloudy days with the craziest sunsets, the super clear nights filled with so many stars you can barely comprehend life and, of course, the diehard cold water surf community.

Photo: James Katsipis

Photo: James Katsipis

There is something about knowing every single person you run into during these months. You give each other a passing hello with the comforting knowledge that each of us in town is sticking another winter out together.

Given that I shoot pictures for a living, I did what I assume most people with a passion for photography would do, I’ve spent my winters documenting life around the East End during the “offseason”. There is an exceptional amount of beauty in the winter, if you know where to look for it.

The coldest and darkest months of the year can be a very joyful and uplifting spiritual experience. But without a fair amount of local knowledge and an appreciation for the ongoing transition of life, Montauk in the winter will always just be The Cold Bitter End.

A preview of the upcoming book, “Montauk: The Cold Bitter End” by James Katsipis. Check in with James via his Instagram, @letstaukgrams, for more info + visual teases of its nearing release. Your eyes might also enjoy some of his other photo series: