Facebook Connects Photographer with Mystery Subject

Thousands of readers saw Hermann's photo, but it was the fisherman who finally recognized himself. Credits: Donna Hermann

FLEMINGTON, NJ – Here’s a story with a very happy ending.

On Nov. 13, High Bridge resident Donna Hermann went to Round Valley Reservoir to photograph the near-Supermoon. When she noticed a fisherman on a sandbar that is usually 15 to 25 feet underwater, she made a photograph of him.

Hermann, a freelance photographer especially noted for her nature photography, found the reflection of the moon's light made an impressive image. The historic moon, combined with the historic low water level, made in “once-in-a-lifetime,” Hermann said, but the  photographer captured in silhouette helped made in surreal.

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Hermann so liked the photograph that she thought it would be nice to share a print of it with the fisherman. There was just one problem: She didn’t know who he was.

After posting it to her website, Hermann shared the photo with TAPinto, which published the photo in an article and asked readers for help identifying him. TAPinto Flemington-Raritan posted a link to the article on its Facebook page, and the link was shared by readers.

Clinton Township resident Chris Trainor was perusing the Round Valley Fishing Facebook page around 3 a.m. one morning when he was struck by a link to the article and photo.

“The picture was alternating with the close up and it took me three or four passes before I realized it was me,” Trainor wrote in an email to Hermann. “The funny thing was that I told my son that someone was looking for this fisherman.”

The photo gives Trainor some bragging rights.

“I cannot thank you enough for trying to find me and for sharing this with me,” he wrote. “My wife is glad that she can now say that she married a model.”

Trainor said he’s not surprised that no one else recognized him.

“I would not have recognized myself in the close up picture if my son was not in it,” he said. “I was wearing a fishing vest over a thick coat, which distorted my shape a bit.” He said the photo also served as a reminder “that I need to lose a couple of pounds.” The Irish wool cap he was wearing also helped concealed his identity.

Oddly, Trainor had been avoiding Facebook “because of all the election venom,” so finding the shared post was a happy circumstance. "I am not sure that I am ready for the fame," he said, " but I will try to roll with it."

There is a moral to this story. Who or what is to credit for this wonderful linkage between photographer and subject? Was it Hermann for making the great photo, and for having the generosity to want to give a print to its subject? Was it the TAPinto editor who saw the value in the story, and for wanting to help Hermann? Was it modern-day technology, social media and Facebook, that helped connect everyone involved?

Yes, to a point. But the person who really deserves the credit is Trainor’s four-year-old son Colin.

After all, it was Colin's idea to go fishing that day.

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