Photo Portfolio: Jane Paradise
Nestled in the protective sands of Provincetown, the iconic dune shacks are suspended in time.
For many, the Dune Shacks of Provincetown represent a simpler time. When one didn’t need indoor plumbing or air conditioning to take full advantage of the beauty Cape Cod offers. Historically a place where creatives could find a bit of respite from civilization to hone their craft and muse over nature. The historic shacks were stewarded by numerous families for generations, while they maintained the structures and gathered memories made over the years.
For native Connecticut photographer Jane Paradise, the draw of the shacks began in her youth when her summers were spent in Truro, visiting the Dune Shacks. “Where Art’s Dune Tours takes people, used to be a parking lot,” she reminisces. “When we were kids in the 1960s we would drive in and run across the dunes. Today a little parking lot remains there for people who are visiting those who have shacks.”
As an adult, Paradise stayed at the Dune Shacks a number of times. “I had an artist residency there for two weeks, I’ve stayed out there by myself for a couple of weeks and I’ve even stayed out there with my husband at least three or four times for a week at a time,” she shares. Over the years, she found herself constantly reading books about the place she loved: Provincetown. “While I was reading those books, I began writing down quotes that I just really liked, not just about the Dune Shacks, but about Provincetown—and it just hit me, ‘Oh wait! I’m always at the Dune Shacks and I have all of these gorgeous photos I’ve taken over the years, why don’t I pair them with quotes of people who have been out at the Dune Shacks, both living and deceased?’ So I did.” With the help of an art director, Joanne Duggan, she was able to narrow down the photographs she had taken out at the shacks that spanned ten years. “Matching the photos to quotes and then sequencing them so they flowed was a huge job, so having an art director really kept me on track,” laughs Paradise. A long-term project and a labor a love, Dune Shacks of Provincetown was finally published by Schiffer Publishing in 2022.
The collection of photos inside the pages of her book, were taken using a collection of cameras over the years; from her Nikon, Fuji and even her iPhone. When asked about her style she says, “I think I have more of a street style. I don’t set things up. I use natural light and don’t use flash. I’m always looking at where the light is falling, how it’s changing. The light on the Cape is just so spectacular and I find myself so heavily inspired by this magical place. I think my non-Cape work is even influenced by my Cape Cod work.”
Paradise shares that her hope for this book, is to share how unique the Dune Shacks are and how much history they hold, “They’re just so special to the people who have been out there.”
The National Parks Services has requested proposals for ten-year leases. The future of the Dune Shacks is on a precipice of change. They are currently trying to evict 94-year-old Salvatore Del Deo, a Korean War Veteran and respected artist, who has spent the last 77 summers in the shack known as “Frenchie’s.” NPS offered him a two-year lease which he has declined.
Dune Shacks of Provincetown can be purchased at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM), and a variety of local bookstores. Alden Gallery in Provincetown and Galatea Fine Art in Boston represent Jane Paradise’s photography.
Christina Galt is the digital editor at Cape Cod Life Publications.