In just a few short weeks 11 pieces from our collection will be on display at Morris Arts at 14 Maple Ave, Morristown, NJ. Recently, the gallery had this to say about our work. “Photographer Kevin Burkitt explores “the post-Hurricane landscape one night at a time in his series, 91 Days, Countless Nights.” He uses “long exposures to shoot only at night, his work amplifies the ‘sadness and desperation,’ shore town by town. The quiet eeriness of his photographs uncovers the desolate beauty within the tragedy.”
This exhibition of work by four New Jersey artists reminds us of redemption and rebirth. The aftermath of the storm is captured in hauntingly quiet, eerily captivating night photographs by Kevin Burkitt. In each image, the solitude of darkness and devastation marry. The calm and trauma silently scream out. These are our points of reference for the other works.
We hope that you, or someone you know will take the time to see the exhibit and share with us your feelings and stories about the storm.
Several months ago we took a day trip to Seaside, NJ. On our way we were detoured along the ocean between Bay Head and Mantoloking. To our dismay, the houses in this area were still very badly damaged and some where beyond repair.
Later that week we went back out along the same route at night to see if we could take a few late-night photographs. This house, which we call “Sidelight,” stuck out for many reasons. First, the single street light created an eerie cast to the yellowish siding. The entire front was gone and the porch was just barely hanging on. We knew that this shot would speak volumes. But we had to act quick because we were not welcome for very long.
After some minor shooting adjustments we decided to shoot this with our 20mm pocket lens. The exposure time was around six minutes. The aperture was around F-16. After rendering, the picture took a little more than 12 minutes to finish. For some reason waiting for the camera to render seemed like an eternity this night. We knew that we would only have one or two chances to make this location work because the neighbors were not too keen on photographers taking pictures of the lingering damage.
Sure enough, on our second attempt we were able to capture one of our favorite and strongest images in the collection.
Two weeks later we returned and this house was completely different. The side was patched up, the porch was fixed, and the structure was being rebuilt. Luckily for us we went when we did; otherwise, we would have missed out on this opportunity.
Several months ago we posted this video to YouTube to help raise awareness for our project. Needless to say it has not gotten any hits. So, we thought we would drop it here to see what happens.
The images in this video are from Monmouth County, NJ starting from Manasquan to Union Beach.
Let us know what you think.
Ultimately what it all comes down to is starting over. The house in the foreground, which we call the
“Boo” house remained stuck in time decorated for Halloween ready for trick-or-treaters. This corner stands out for me for us because this is what Manasquan used to be, small houses on small lots. Clearly this was going to change. The “Boo” house survived the storm; however, it was beyond repair. The quintessential example of what beach living meant would fall victim to a bulldozer, dump truck, or maybe a dumpster or two. What the storm couldn’t knock down someone else would.
By the winter of 2013, this lot was cleared. The house was gone. “Progress” was being made. For several months the lot remained vacant, ready for a new structure to be built in it’s place. But who knew what would be coming?
The spring of 2014 saw an eight foot surrounding wall being built. This foundation clearly indicated that a much bigger and stronger structure would be built where “Boo” once stood. Within a matter of weeks the block was set, the footing was poured, and construction began. What was once an unsuspecting summer getaway was now becoming another monstrosity on the Inlet. We are not complaining, rather we just didn’t see this one coming. We guess there is no need for charming when you have to worry about a six foot tidal surge.
And so it began. A new, well lifted house was being constructed. The charm that once was was being replaced by a virtual giant, towering over the Inlet and signaling that recovery was being made.
Goodbye to the quaint, tiny, small, comfortable. If no one else wants to say it, we will. We will miss you.
Each photograph in this collection is taken at night, late at night, very late at night. We use a single long exposure to capture the subject using just the light available. Once captured, the editing begins. Each capture is edited in color in Lightoom and then dropped into NIK Silver Efex Pro for the black and white finishing work. Once the edits are done the image is again imported back into Lightroom, where they are “finished.” This is our workflow. Between shooting and editing creating a finished product takes a long time. This is why we only take a few photos a night.
Capturing destruction can turn into a beautiful experience. For example, this photograph was taken in mid February, 2103 from Ocean Grove, NJ looking north into Asbury Park. This image captures the iconic “Asbury Casino,” famous for the electric factory and carousel.
For those that know New Jersey, most of you know Asbury Park and the history that the city has endured over time. Although the city is back to “normal,” we feel that this image captures a moment in time that will stand timeless.
Honestly, we never would have thought that 21 months ago we would still be working on the same project. Furthermore, we never would have thought thought that our work would matter to those that lost some, most, or all after Hurricane Sandy. Although this is our first official blog post, we have been working on this project since November, 2013. We began documenting the damage from the storm one night at a time not knowing where this would take us. After a while we needed a catchy name, and came up with this: 91 Days, Countless Nights In essence we found an outlet to make something beautiful from something horrible, tragic, random, and heart wrenching.
Tonight, 8/3/14, we continue to shoot pictures of the destruction left behind from Hurricane Sandy. The only difference about tonight is that it is one day later. Just another night. Progress is marked by a hard days work for most, but for us progress is recorded one night at a time.
We’ve seen so much in 21 months that it is all beginning to look the same. Not in a bad way. Rather, just in a sad, isolated, desolate way. The “recovery” is slow. Very slow for many reasons, most of which we will not go into here.
We are here to tell the story of structure. Places. Happier times held captive by various levels of constraint and hardship.
The images in our collection tell a different story. A haunting story. A harrowing story. One that should not be forgotten. We know nothing about what we are shooting. We do not document addresses, towns, residency, or names. All we care about is capturing what is still standing, what is being worked on, and what is being restored. It is clear that we are in this for the long haul and we are prepared to keep documenting the changes, however slowly they were happening.
To date we have shot over 100 nights and have over 100 images in the collection. Each nameless location tells the same story. Sadness. Isolation. Depression. Desperation.
This project has become an obsession. Somehow we have taken it upon ourselves to create beauty from destruction, hoping those around us will see just how far we have to go before we “restore the shore.”
This past week we traveled to Princeton, NJ to be part of a taping for Princeton Community TV. The show was hosted by former NJN Anchor, Jim Hooker. On the panel were Justin Auciello, of the Jersey Shore Hurricane News Network, Sandra Levine of Sandra Levine Productions. Together we shared our experiences in dealing with the storm, the aftermath, and the recovery process.
Justin’s Jersey Shore Hurricane News Network has gained national and Presidential recognition for helping to aide those in need during Hurricane Sandy. His story is truly amazing.
Sandra’s documentary is gaining state-wide recognition for tell the true story of recovery and restoration and will be screened October 26, 214 at Ocean County Community College.
Together we provided three different and unique views as to the impact of the storm and how we are still recovering from the aftermath today.
Additionally, this show will be offered to the Jersey Access Group (JAG) to be picked up to air on other community access channels.
If you can, please check out the show. We will post the links when they are ready.
Kevin & Shannon
Kevin and Shannon would like to thank the following people, groups, and organizations who successfully funded our Kickstarter campaign.
- Will Nickley
- Legends of Enlightenment
- Robert Cote
- S.R. Marelli
- Natalie Fein
- Amy Pagano
- Kimberly Cullen
- Meghan Jambor
- Barbara Welch McAuliffe
- David Gaipa
- Meghan McAuliffe Lines
- Karyn Arnold
- J.d. Welch
- Craig Cawley
- Marianne Drake
- James Ward
- Krista Wittenberg Horan
- Debra Payette
- Finnbar McCallion
- Patricia W. Miller
- Anita Voogt *
- Joe Welch
- Kenneth McGee*
- Mike Jordan
- Howard & Dianne Welch
- Nancy Williams
- Robert Hanlon Jr.
- Ed Johnson
- Linda A Fernandes
- Andrew Finkelstein
- Liza Micioni
- Robert Welch
- The Duskas
- Melvin Romano
- Sally Welch
- Sidney Mac Leod
- Andrew and Alicia Fernandes
- Robert & Nancy Burkitt
We would like to thank everyone that came out to support us at Torche’ Galerie this past weekend. We were very happy and proud to be part of this show.
The Summer Exhibition runs for two months until the middle of September.
Torche’ Galerie is located at 500 Main Street Belmar, NJ 07719. Hours are listed on their website.
Thanks again to everyone that came out to support our project.
Kevin & Shannon