About Oyster Farm

Oyster Farm
Photographs of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Empty Oyster Racks in the Estero

The Oyster Farm photographs document an era in California history that has now ended. It records the final year of Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC), the last operating oyster cannery in the state, and the men and women who worked there.

Oyster harvesting in Drakes Estero dates back to the indigenous Coast Miwok people and continued as dairy ranching was established in the surrounding area. In 1962 the oyster farm was included in the Point Reyes National Seashore and subsequently was operated by lease agreement with the National Park Service. In 2005, the Lunny family purchased the business and took over the existing lease.

Controversies erupted when the National Park Service announced that the lease would not be renewed after 2012.  Conflicting environmental philosophies and legal issues were debated at local, state, and national levels. Opposing positions bitterly divided the small, rural community in which the farm was located.

I decided to photograph the immigrant workers whose jobs and homes were threatened in order to put a human face on what had become abstract and theoretical. I spent a year photographing at the farm and printing the black and white gelatin silver prints that comprise the series.

When the US Supreme Court denied a hearing of the case, DBOC was ordered to close its facility and remove all oysters from the Estero. I then returned to photograph the deserted farm and demolition of all structures at the site.

For additional information about the Oyster Farm project and exhibit please contact evvyeisen@yahoo.com