PDN Photo of the Day

A Portrait of the Empty Jersey Shore

The title of Tyler Haughey’s project “130 Miles” refers to the length of New Jersey’s coastline, from the top of Sandy Hook to the bottom of Cape May, as measured by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But rather than showing the crowds that gather in the summer, Haughey is interested in showing the Jersey Shore’s sites and attractions without people, building a series of empty beaches and water slide parks lit by a low-angled sun. He explains to PDN by email, “As a native of the Jersey Shore, I’ve always been interested in the different ways that the coastline of the state is used, and how these can change from town to town. I began to research and explore this idea and found that for such a relatively small oceanic shoreline, the diversity that exists is drastic. I had experienced many of the usages while growing up there, from World War I artillery bases to high-end private beach clubs and well-known seaside landmarks, and because of that I was able to approach the project with a familiarity and affinity for the landscape I was photographing.” While he knew many of the places he wanted to include from growing up there, others were new to him. “I did a fair amount of research into the areas I had never visited before, from reading about the history of a place to using Google Maps to see what was there that I was not aware of prior, but much of the work came out of just driving around and exploring the landscape.”

Shot mostly during the first half of 2012, Haughey writes in a statement that the images “take on a new light following the devastation that amassed along the state’s seaboard during Hurricane Sandy in October of that same year. Most of the locations in these photographs were directly hit by the storm, and many have sustained permanent damage, or in some cases, are no longer standing.” The fate of the shore in the storm colors the images with a darker tone, but it didn’t change Haughey’s outlook. He tells PDN, “Because some of the places depicted were seriously damaged or even destroyed during Hurricane Sandy, I tend to look at the work now with some sentimentality, but this didn’t have an effect on how I edited the project. This landscape continues to exist long after the summer tourists go home and the major storms such as Hurricane Sandy pass, and I wanted to make sure that came across in the work.”

Related Stories:
At Home at the Beach
Preston Gannaway: Ocean View
Ocean Beach: Documenting the Beauty of the Jersey Shore Before and After Hurricane Sandy

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