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Photographer tells stories behind this year’s favorite GPA images

Stephen B. Morton captured many milestones in 2017

Thursday, December 28, 2017/Categories: Blog

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The idea of choosing a single photo to call “my favorite” is like asking a father to choose his favorite child. They each have endearing qualities and each evoke emotions — some good, some not so good.

So how can a photographer with hundreds of “children” choose a single one? The best I can offer is a handful of my favorite images from 2017 that I selected based on the story of how they were shot.


First, I have to say, how grateful I am for being asked to contribute to the many projects for the Georgia Ports Authority. I am honored the team at GPA trusts me to follow my passion and to chase light to make these images. Without the team in Corporate Communications, none of this would be possible.

Of course, I do want to “spotlight” one of my favorites images from 2017. The panoramic photo of seven cranes working the CMA CMG Theodore Roosevelt is my overall favorite. It is also the favorite of many people at GPA. Not only is it beautiful, the image is important because this is the first time seven cranes have worked a vessel in the history of the Port of Savannah.

The image is made up of 19 vertical images stitched together to make a strong horizontal panoramic. What makes it such a memorable one for me, is everything fell into place. Starting with the sunset over a passing thunderstorm, to the Crane Operations department being able to make a rubber-tired gantry crane available for me to shoot from so I could include several rows of containers in the foreground. And last, but not least, there was a nearly full moon rising in the background. Amazing!

I picked many images from this year because of their perspective and composition. A few of them are of the crew onboard the tugboat Cooper Moran and from North Beach on Tybee Island. They are my favorites simply because they offer a different perspective than most people can see on the Port of Savannah and the ships that visit.

How many people get to experience docking a 1,200-foot vessel loaded with 14,000 TEUs from the deck of a working tugboat?  How often do we see a vessel when it passes the sea oats on North Beach?

Some of my other favorites from 2017 show people working — freight handlers on Ocean Terminal, the Cooper Moran captain and deck hands and a crewman on a CMA vessel waiting in the pilot door with a Jacob’s ladder. The port isn’t just machines loading and unloading containers. The port runs smoother because of people, and I think 2017 really showed that in a beautiful way.

Finally, one of the craziest projects of 2017 included the square Instagram photos I shot on my iPhone that are scattered among the beauty shots of ships, people and machinery. Shooting photos on my iPhone and editing them using Instagram allows me to instantly upload photos to the growing base of followers on social media. They appeal to a creative audience who follow GPA and make it stand out in a visually oriented world market.

Stephen B. Morton is an award-winning photographer/photojournalist currently based in Savannah and travels extensively throughout the Southeastern United States.  He frequently photographs events and terminal operations for the Georgia Ports Authority. His work has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press, Bloomberg Financial News, Getty Images and USA Today

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