The exhibit of fine art photography by Yana Frangiskos-Copek currently being presented at the Oyster Bay Historical Society offers a bevy of nautical adventures in Oyster Bay and beyond. The waterways of Montauk, Niagara Falls, even Missouri have been captured strikingly during different weather conditions and at different times of day. The result? Photographs that lead one to wish they could climb aboard a vessel or, at the very least, take one of Frangiskos-Copek photographs home, as a reminder of the beauty that awaits out on the water.
“Sailing makes me feel alive, and taking pictures expresses what I see and feel,” Frangiskos-Copek said. “With my photographs, I can share that with everyone.”
Frangiskos-Copek, a portrait and event photographer, specializes in nautical photography. Born in Athens, Greece, she arrived in the United States when she was a year old and was raised in New York City and on Long Island. She has lived in Upper Brookville for more than 30 years.
She’s made her mark in Oyster Bay. Each year she publishes an annual nautical photography calendar of classic wooden yachts sailing in Oyster Bay. It’s become quite popular around town. “In the beginning I was bringing around my calendars giving them away,” she said, smiling. “Now people ask me when my calendar is coming out.”
The walls of the society’s Angela Koenig Center are covered in her photos that vary in size and style. There are boats drifting aimlessly on quiet, calm seas and those fighting to stay afloat — photographs crafted in canvas, metallic prints and metallic sepia prints.
Frangiskos-Copek has been an artist since she was a child, first pursuing drawing, painting and sculpting. She studied fine art, film and photography at C.W. Post-Long Island University as well as decorative painting at The Finishing School.
When Frangiskos-Copek caught the sailing bug, her life changed. “I had never sailed before, and at 35 I decided, ‘I can do this,’” she said. “I learned and I ended up loving it. People say to me you’re Greek. That’s why you sail. Actually, I had to learn how to do it.”
She’s been sailing for more than 10 years at the Manhattan Sailing Club and Oyster Bay’s Water Front Center. She always has her camera along.
Pointing to the photo “Storm,” Frangiskos-Copek said she’s often glad she has a camera along, though getting a shot can be challenging. “This photo was taken during a race and there was a storm,” she said. “It was very, very windy and they cancelled the race, but we were too far out and had to sail.”
Frangiskos-Copek had brought two cameras with her that day. She took as many photos as she could while also struggling to remain aboard the sailboat. “One of my cameras was destroyed going underwater,” she said. “But I got one of my favorite shots with the other. It was worth it.”
Frangiskos-Copek’s raced in all types of sailboats, some that date as far back as 1905, which she said was like racing in an antique. There’s a photograph of that boat in the show and others from the 1950s.
Nancy Sbarro, of Bayville, lingered near one of Copek’s photographs, moving closer to see the details. “I like the perspective of the photographs,” she said. “Yana’s photos are personal and adventurous.”
Pat Farnell, of Bayville, was happy to attend the opening reception on May 19 to show her support for her mate. She sails with Frangiskos-Copek. “Because she is a sailor, she captures different perspectives of the water, when it’s calm, when there’s a storm and can show how a boat reacts to these elements,” Farnell explained. “She’s never afraid to take a picture and can be found often hanging off the boat.”
Frangiskos-Copek enjoys racing classic yachts, and many of the photographs in the exhibit at the historical society were taken while she was racing. She said she likes the freedom of being out in all kinds of weather with nature. Her photographs allow for us to experience this too, without any worry of getting wet or sunburned.
Fine Art Photography by Yana Copek will remain at the Oyster Bay Historical Society’s Koenig Center, 20 Summit St., Oyster Bay, until Aug. 20. Call for hours and further information at (516) 922-5032.