The Outer Cape: A Photographic Essay by Thomas Sweeney is a compilation of photographs celebrating the towns that make up the tip of the Cape Cod peninsula; Chatham, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown. The Outer Cape is a thoughtful and deliberate collection of landscape, nature and documentary photography that explores the rhythms of the natural world and how these cycles give rise to the complementary, interdependent processes of destruction and creation that continually remake this dynamic, ever changing landscape. Many of the places depicted in this body of work no longer exist.
“Coastal erosion, sand transport, and deposition are the natural processes that are responsible for the Cape as we know it. Without these processes there would be no beaches, no barrier islands or barrier spits, and no sea cliffs. Without them there would be fewer sheltered harbors, bays, lagoons, and salt marshes. The dunes of Provincetown and Sandy Neck, near Barnstable, would not exist.” -Robert Oldale, Geologist, USGS , Emeritus
The Great Beach of the Outer Cape is losing up to 3 feet each year to the ocean. On some years it can lose as much as 20 feet. The beach I walked on as a child is now a couple hundred feet offshore, a playground for seals. In the distance future the Outer Cape will become a series of islands as the sea level continues to rise. In the not so distant future the kettle ponds in north Wellfleet, beginning with Doane's Bog Pond, will become overrun and outwash into the ocean. The Pamet River will become a canal that bisects Truro. Nauset Marsh will become a small bay that will eventually connect to the kettle ponds of Eastham and then to the larger Cape Cod Bay. How fleeting this time is.