Tag Archives: Compo Beach

Everyone Into The Water!

Just a typical Saturday in mid-October:

(Photo/Chip Stephens)

Pic Of The Day #177

The good life (Photo/Fred Cantor)

Pic Of The Day #175

Ziggy Hallgarten — on fall break from Cornell University — enjoys a windy day at Compo. 

Larry Silver And The Art Of Photography (2017-Style)

Larry Silver is 82 years old. He’s been taking photos since he was a teenager.

His work is warm, evocative and engaging. He is known around the world.

Westport — Silver’s home since 1973 — is an important setting for his work.

Compo Beach is a favorite — particularly the outdoor showers near the concession stand. The parade of people — different ages, shapes and sizes, all set against the brick background — is a photographer’s delight.

In fact, his 1980 “Beach Showers, Westport CT” has become iconic. It hangs in many museums.

Larry Silver’s 1980 “Beach Showers, Westport, CT.”

But what was fine in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s is not okay today. The world has changed — and Silver’s photography is one of the casualties.

To get the spontaneous shots he likes, Silver keeps his camera largely out of sight. “I don’t want to be obvious,” he says. “I don’t want poses.”

But when he is shooting, he spends time focusing. He’s working on his art.

Passersby see a man with a camera, taking photos of people in showers.

Last year, someone — thinking Silver was doing something illegal — called the police. They asked for identification, and reviewed the images on his camera. They found nothing wrong, and returned his camera to him.

Several people who knew Silver confirmed to the police that he is an esteemed professional photographer.

The next day, Silver went to the Parks and Recreation Department. He showed facility manager Dan DeVito samples of his work, and apologized for creating a problem.

“He’s a nice guy — very reasonable,” Silver says of DeVito. “I understand he’s under pressure. He has to react.”

Silver took some more images, until the end of summer.

There is nothing illegal about taking photos in a public place, Silver notes. “If you’re at a place like the beach, you give up the right of privacy,” he says.

This summer, there were additional complaints. One woman called Silver’s wife Gloria a “pervert” for allowing him to shoot near the showers.

Silver tried to reason with the woman, showing her a published catalog of his works. She refused to even look at it.

The police were again called. Again, Silver spoke to DeVito. Silver showed him his images, and said he would stop his project.

DeVito asked Silver why he didn’t ask subjects for permission to shoot. “That changes the dynamics,” the photographer replied.

Still, he tried asking. “I could not get the kind of pictures I was happy with,” Silver says. “The people I asked were suspicious and distrustful. The people who agreed ended up stiff and posed.”

The other day, Parks & Rec sent Silver a letter. It said that he “created a disturbance,” and caused “alarm and discomfort.” It served as a written warning for “unacceptable behavior.” If Silver continued to take photos, he risked the loss of beach privileges for 2 years.

“I’ve been capturing this town with my eyes since I moved here,” Silver says. “I’ve documented the lifestyle of this community.

“I understand what Parks & Rec is doing, and why they have to,” he continues. “This is just the nature of the world we live in today. Photographers everywhere are being confronted and threatened.”

Silver’s shower series is over. Next summer, he won’t take any photos anywhere near there.

“If this disturbed people, I regret that,” he says. “However, I believe the images I have will some day be part of Westport’s history — especially if we approve an arts museum here.”

He’s got plenty of time to figure out his next subject. But he’s also busy preparing for an upcoming event.

On Friday, October 13, the Westport Historical Society throws a big gala. There’s great food, a Prosecco bar, and music.

There’s a special honoree too. His name: Larry Silver.

(All photos copyright Larry Silver)

Pic Of The Day #167

Late afternoon shadows at Compo Beach (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Pic Of The Day #152

Every Friday, members of the New to Westport Moms group take their kids to Compo. Last night was the final “Beach Friday” of the summer. (Photo/Erin Spillman)

Pic Of The Day #148

Goodnight, Compo (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Sound Off On Compo Crowding

From South Beach grills to the Schlaet’s Point jetty, Westporters chattered all summer long about the ever-increasing crowds at — and lines of cars waiting to  get into — Compo Beach.

(They also commented on the sudden invasion of circus-size tents. But that’s another story.)

Welcome to Compo!

Now you can do more than talk (or post on Facebook and “06880”).

Item #4 on the Parks and Recreation Commission’s Wednesday, September 13 meeting (8 p.m., Town Hall auditorium) is to “take such action as the meeting may determine relative to resident concerns regarding parking at Compo Beach (discussion only).”

Commissioners know there were several days this summer when the parking lots were temporarily closed. They recognize that Uber does a booming business dropping off large numbers of beach-goers.

They’re ready for feedback from residents, to review statistics and share preliminary thoughts.

Parks & Rec chair Charlie Haberstroh promises his commission will review “all aspects of the Compo Beach experience.” That includes:

  • Operations in general, including maintenance
  • Procedures for entering the beach, including processing time for daily permit buyers
  • The number and cost of permits issued to all constituencies, including town residents and purchasers of out-of-town daily and seasonal passes, and Westonites
  • Other issues which have been and will be raised by residents.

On October 18, Parks & Rec will listen to recommendations of the Parks & Rec Department for addressing issues raised. That meeting will also serve as a forum for additional comments from residents.

Haberstroh knows that next Wednesday is Back to School Night for all elementary schools. He encourages anyone who cannot attend Wednesday to email him (haberstroh.prc@gmail.com). Comments will be read into the public record, and entered into the minutes.

This is a great chance for Westporters — on all sides of the issue — to make their voices heard.

But if you go Wednesday, be ready to sit through brief reports from the boating, golf, parks and racquets advisory committees first.

Pic Of The Day #144

Shells and sand at Compo Beach (Photo/Anne Hardy)

Pic Of The Day #136

Late-summer corn at Compo (Photo/Ciona Becker)