Tara Israel’s (a)Bonac Project Is Just So Freaking Cool

(a) Bonac, photo by Tara Israel
(a) Bonac, photo by Tara Israel

Tara Israel and I are roughly the same age, she’s from Springs, she’s beautiful, and she’s one of the most dedicated photographers that I’ve ever known in person. Her work has been featured in the The New York Times, and just recently, I was reminded of her project (a)Bonac, which is a photo study of locals from East Hampton’s blue collar village of Springs, where she and I both grew up.

Growing up in Springs is a unique experience, because for the most part, a lot of people living there are technically poor or working class. Even when real estate prices soared, mentally most people never felt like they had a lot of money. When you’re a kid, life is spent very much involved with nature. Marshes, fishing, baseball, camping, tree forts, bb guns, bow hunting, skeet shooting, making fun of rich people, feeling embarrassed that your not rich and growing up with an impossible stigma of being from “the Hamptons” no matter where you go, and people just not really getting that for many, it can be hard living.

The term is Bonacker. It means everything I just said above, and when you’re born a Bonacker it’s a badge of honor and weirdness. Tara gets that, and there is no other photographer that I can think of who has made such a committed effort to share it with the world and has done it more successfully than she has.

Her work was recently featured on narrative.ly and I hope that you enjoy the art as much as I do. Here are some of my favorite photos. You can view them all at narrative.ly. 

Zach P, by Tara Israel
Zach P, by Tara Israel


Ethan comes from one of the oldest local families in Springs. He recently purchased a house in Southampton and works for the awning company that was founded by his grandfather. Ethan’s grandfather would give scraps of canvas from the workshop to then-starving artists like Willem de Kooning so they would have material to paint on. -photo by Tara Israel


Brittany works as a math tutor and a certified holistic health coach. She is from Montauk, where her father was a commercial fisherman and her mother owns a day spa. For the last few years she has split her time between Puerto Rico and Montauk, homeschooling Quincy Davis, a local professional surfer who graduated from East Hampton High School in 2013. -photo by Tara Israel

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