It’s summer on the Vineyard and the afternoon sun casts shadows across Lucy Vincent Beach in Chilmark. A volleyball game is in progress. Carefree children scamper in and out of the foamy surf. Peter Simon is there in his beachfront office, Pentax in hand, clicking away to record the scene.

Cut to the Hot Tin Roof, the Island’s former nightclub where the concert lineup through the years included Bonnie Rait, Peter Tosh, Ricky Nelson, the Heptones. Peter is there, Pentax in hand, clicking away.

Cut to the Chilmark Community Center on a cold April night. Outdoors, pinkletinks shriek their tiny frog songs from the greening swamps of early spring. Indoors, a New England town meeting is in progress. Moderator Everett Poole bangs the gavel. Peter is there, Pentax in hand ...

Peter Simon, the barefooted Vineyard photographer who spent more than fifty years recording an eclectic array of images from his own brand of counterculture social commentary to stunning Vineyard landscapes, was an Island icon in his own right.

His first photograph appeared in the Gazette in 1968, a picture of the life ring on the ferry Islander.

After that, no one stopped to count. But suffice it to say that hundreds if not thousands of Peter’s photographs have appeared in the Gazette through the decades. His pictures, often appearing on the front page or editorial page, told the story of the Island through its people and places: the front porch of Alley’s General Store in West Tisbury, classic gingerbread cottages in the Oak Bluffs Camp Ground, surfers at Squibnocket, Menemsha at sunset, Walter Cronkite at the helm of his sailboat, Rose Styron on her elegant front lawn.

And always, always Lucy Vincent Beach.

Peter’s fans were legion. Some years ago a seasonal resident recounted in a letter to the editor how he had collected his newspaper in the mail after Christmas, finding a picture of Alley’s on the front page. “I didn’t have to check the photographer to know that it was a Simon,” the subscriber wrote.

When he died this week, the tributes that poured onto the Gazette website and on social media were further proof of that fan base.

He could be exasperating. He was often dreamy and could never seem to get anywhere on time. But he never lost that sense of wonder that came through in so much of his photography. When he was going through a rough patch some years ago, I sometimes drove him to assignments and we would talk about old times, how the Island had changed but had still not lost its magic.

Peter also was a friend. He would always greet me with a hug and his trademark “Hi, sweetie,” even when we were occasionally at odds over the placement of a photo or the quality of the printing.

We shared a love of journalism — including photojournalism — and of the Gazette.

Some of my best memories of Peter are from our annual Christmas staff picture — which he took every year for as long as I can remember. He would always be late of course, and we would spend what seemed like hours outside in the freezing cold while Peter arranged us around the doorway or in the back of the Gazette’s antique red truck, getting the shot just right.

A few weeks ago out of the blue, he emailed me a picture he had found in his archives of Henry Hough, the late editor of the Gazette and his first boss. He called me later to explain that he had had a bad test result, his lung cancer was back and he was getting his affairs in order.

It was the last time we spoke.

I wish now that I had stayed on the phone a little longer. To say goodbye to my old friend.