Jeffrey Byrnes Photographer Fashion + Portraits + Travel

Photographing Cape Cod: The End of Summer


The sun is setting over the horizon. Groups of people are vacating the beaches. For many, this is the last weekend of summer. The start of September marks the beginning of school, a time of new beginnings.. Summer loves are parting ways, saying good byes as they leave their memories on the beaches, in the back yards, under the star-lit firework filled skies, or where ever it is they met and fell in love. For some, the summer love that was created will go on to last a life time. At times I have entertained the idea that I could have been on the beach, next to two people that just met, was next to them when they found the love of their life. Or, we could have been next to a couple that was just about to say their final good bye, as they went into the world finding their own places separate from each other.

The only thing that will remain as an attachment to their relationship are the memories they created and that one last summer they shared before heading home, off to college, or the transition into a new life and career after the last summer post college. Labor Day weekend truly is the last weekend of summer for most people. As the schools start up, college students move back to campus, after school sports start up, life is about enter a new season.

Like a silhouette in the sunset, summer becomes a fast growing memory as the days shorten, the nights become crisp with cool air, and the sun no longer kisses our skin like it did a mere few days ago. August is usually the month I begin to look forward to October. Fall is a favorite season of mine, even though I love summer. There are elements of each season that please me, but with Summer, I cant find any fault like I can for parts of winter and spring. Fall is usually always beautiful, even when it rains out. And as most New Englanders know, the fall can be a real wet season.

For me though, as the summer days fold up and mother nature calls it a day, I am reminded of so many fond moments over the last few months. A hot air balloon ride, lots of time on Cape Cod, day trips, beach trips, warm nights and drought like conditions are a few elements that furnished some great memories. Each moment began with a day, most typically on that day my camera was in hand. But as the time passes, I may forget what really helped make that day so special, but at least in having a photograph I will never forget that moment because of what I saw through the lens. There are some photographs that will correlate with memories, but even when those memories are locked away tight in the back of my mind, the still frame of the image will remind me of the most simplest of things, I was there, then, at that moment.

I have a new collection of photographs from Cape Cod. Some are places I've re-visited, places from my childhood. Most though, are from places I have yet to be to or things I have not seen on the cape. The landscape, like the shrinking shore, has changed in many ways. Having been here as a child and into my early teen years and again as an adult, I can see the changes. I am neutral to them, not saying things are good, bad, better than they were, but different. My affection for Cape Cod will never die, as I think about a future that involves more time on the cape.

Photographing the cape can be very simple, do not fall into the tourist traps, the cliches that make up tourism, and make images that show the moment while still capturing the essence that is the cape. Cape Cod has its own lifestyle, and that is something I strive to capture. To humor myself at times, the tourists become a subject matter. It is entertaining to watch them band together and pull out their cameras, electronic devices, tablets, and smart phones to make images of that oh so familiar place, object, or seagull.

When I travel, even to a place I frequent, I know I am not a tourist, but when a camera is seen in my hands, there is an automatic preconceived notion that I am as much of a tourist as the rest of the people surrounding me. But truth be told, I am a photographer with a clear focus to document the moment, the location, the people, and share those images through blogs, articles, publications, and exhibitions.

As we look out onto the horizon, we say good bye to another day. The final days of summer are marked with conversations about what we've done, saw, felt, and missed out on doing. A laundry list of places and things not accomplished will have to wait till next summer as we back up the memories into our visual cortex, storing them in a mental photo album. Next summer will be greater than summer.

My final thoughts on this subject include, a quote. From my girlfriend Sue: "Would you say you had a lot of firsts with me this summer?" The answer was simple. "Yes. Yes I did." To that I say, thank you Sue. Thank you for a great summer of memories and photographs.