Photographer Mark Hergan on standby. Photo by David Sites

Faces of the Bay: Photographer Mark Hergan Captures Highs and Lows of the Port of Baltimore

Photographer Mark Hergan captures the the people who bring life to the Chesapeake Bay.

The Port of Baltimore has had some notable events, including the Ever Forward grounding in 2020, the acquisition of massive cranes that allow larger ships to enter the Port, and—eclipsing the rest—the Key Bridge collapse less than two weeks ago. Bay photographer Mark Hergan has documented the port’s historic events and everyday commerce alike.

When the container ship Ever Forward ran aground just outside the Patapsco River on its way out of port, Hergan was one of the first photographers on site to document the entire process. From the first day of uncertainty to the final ungrounding, Hergan was tracing the event for the public. His unique style highlights the people behind the image. From crews working on tugboats and the Coastguard members who maintain a perimeter, Hergan captures the people who work to resolve the situation. 

“The port is interesting because there is always something different going on—new ships, tugs doing various tasks, and something new every day,” he tells us.

In March, when the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed after being struck by the container ship Dali, Hergan was on the water documenting the tragic event. Each day, his photographs update the public on the progress and portray a story that helps people understand the workings of the port. More importantly, Hergan captures the humanity of the situation.

Hergan uses his 18-foot Scout center console as his photography vessel. He says, “It’s the perfect boat for me because it has a low freeboard that allows me to get low to the water for the perfect shot.” Kept on Bear Creek, Hergan has easy access to the Port of Baltimore and all its inner workings.

Mark Hergan on standby at the Key Bridge collapse. Photo by James Ronayne

Hergan is an avid sailor and currently owns a Tripp 33 named Zombie which he races on Tuesday nights with the Baltimore City Yacht Association. One of the more interesting fleets he participates in and documents is the Log Canoe Fleet on the Eastern Shore. He regularly sails on Mystery, a 1932 log canoe out of the Chester River, and has published a book of his photography showcasing the beauty and uniqueness of this historic fleet.

When Hergan began his photography career, he liked shooting traditional Chesapeake Deadrise workboats. This led him to name his business Deadrise Marine Photography

Hergan publishes many of his photos in boating magazines up and down the Chesapeake, including Chesapeake Bay Magazine‘s most recent Weekends on the Water issue. Last year, he spent 111 days on the Bay as part of Spinsheet‘s Century Club and says he hopes to surpass that goal this year.

Hergan at work, captured by fellow Bay photographer David Sites.

Hergan’s photography of the Bay serves as a valuable historical reference. His documentation of the Port of Baltimore and the hard-working men and women who keep it running smoothly are vital news sources that will tell stories for generations. His photos engage his viewership with the human side of an industrial port and remind us of the beauty of every aspect of the Chesapeake Bay.

You can follow Hergan’s work on social media at Deadrise Marine Photography or on his website at