Provincetown Hub




47 Portraits of People in Provincetown and a Chat with Photographer Emil Cohen: PHOTOS

BY ANDY TOWLE

Towleroad spent several months this summer in Provincetown, Massachusetts. 'P-town', in addition to being the nation's historic LGBT resort destination, has also served as an enclave for writers and artists since the late 1800s and continues to attract creative types from all over the world who are drawn by the area's dramatic physical beauty, its numerous arts venues, and its colorful collection of tourists and townies.

EDC_PortraitsOfProvincetown_Towleroad_002One project we've had our eye on all summer is a photographic documentary series by Emil Cohen, who stationed himself each evening outside the Boatslip (where a daily and long-running 'Tea Dance' is held) and found hundreds of willing subjects to stand in front of his lens.

Emil (pictured, right, in self-portrait) sat down with me this week to share 47 of the portraits with Towleroad and discuss the process and inspiration behind his impressive project.

Who are you and how would you describe yourself as an artist?

My name is Emil Cohen and I'm a professional photographer. I received my MFA this past spring from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA. As an artist, I find myself drawn to portraiture’s ability to capture the human experience.

What inspired you to start photographing people in Provincetown?

This past summer, my fiancé and I had a seasonal rental lined up for the summer, so I knew that the next project that I took upon myself would be shot in Provincetown and more specifically, be about Provincetown. The inspiration behind this particular project was mainly Richard Avedon's In The American West series. I proudly own an original copy of the book (a gem I discovered at Tim's Used Books on Commercial St.) and became inspired to create my own portrait series. I like to believe that people captured in Avedon’s work represent real, live individuals, not staged personas. That skill, to embody each person’s essence, is something that I strive to achieve in my own work every day. 

Is portraiture your specialty?

Portraiture is indeed my specialty. I have always found myself drawn to photographing people, though sometimes photographing their environments provides further light on the subjects. Studying the work of Alec Soth, Claire Beckett, Matt Williams and Brian Schutmaat, has enhanced my understanding that a portrait can be more than just a photograph of a person. 

EDC_PortraitsOfProvincetown_Towleroad_035Where did you find your subjects for this project and who are they?

My subjects are all volunteers. I set up my camera on the corner of Atlantic St and Commercial St and ask people if they'd like to participate in a photo series. 

How many people did you photograph? Was it over the course of an entire summer, a few days?

I began shooting this project right after July 4th and have been photographing nearly every day so far. Without realizing it, doing this every day, I’ve captured over 200 people. What’s so unique is that each photograph represents a different person’s background, perspective, experience, life. What I’ve realized about this series is that it’s not only a portrait series, but also a chronology of a P-Town summer: From Bear week to Family week to Carnival and more.

How did you choose the setting?

The critical aspect of the setting was the continuous backdrop, akin to Avedon’s work In The American West. Having people stand in front of the same backdrop forces the viewer to concentrate solely on the person. To me, the storm shingles beautifully represent Provincetown and Cape Cod. Having each person stand in front of the same shingles helped identify the location of this project but also helps create a catalog of people, which as a whole, becomes a portrait of Provincetown itself. 

Which are your three favorite portraits and why?

As each person approached the storm shingles in front of my camera, I provided the same simple instruction: "Be yourself." The three portraits I'm particularly drawn to are ones who fully understood my guidance. Specifically, Super Judge Judy, the two men in black singlets, and the young black man in the black tank top named Richard (all this page, click to enlarge). Super Judge Judy and Richard look directly into the viewers’ eyes and exude a level of self-confidence that strengthens the photo overall. With the Two Wrestlers, I particularly love how the gentleman on the right got lost in the moment and forgot that I was watching them. For these individuals, a mix of the P-Town atmosphere, and perhaps a few Tea Dance cocktails, helped lower their guards and elevate their presence in the photos.

EDC_PortraitsInProvincetown_RichardStGermain_001What is it about Provincetown that makes it especially suitable for this type of project?

I love Provincetown’s ability to draw out the child from within. Each person, regardless of background, can be who they want, dress how they want, and act how they want. This level of curiosity, openness, and fun was more than a gift for me in this series. By beginning to capture the essence of this small town and its visitors, I’m excited to see this work develop into a portrait of the town itself.

Is there a Provincetown photographic tradition that you admire? Any other photographers?

While I don’t have a specific Provincetown photographic tradition in mind, the costumes and theme weeks certainly are a photographer’s dream. There are many photographers whose work I admire and turn to for influence. Irving Penn and Avedon are particularly strong inspirations. As are, Bruce Davidson, Gregory Crewdson, Renika Dykstra, Jess Dugan, and Collier Shore. 

Did you give your subjects special instructions before photographing them?

Stand in front of the shingles and be yourself.

Do you plan to make this a tradition?

To me tradition isn’t something planned, but something that grows organically. Looking back on the project, Portraits in Provincetown is a chronology of portraits, encapsulating the summer of 2014 through a series of photos. Moving forward with the project, returning to the series would expand the idea that this project is an archive which continues to grow every summer. I would love to do such an ambitious project and in five, ten years, have this enormous volume of portraits taken throughout the years to archive Provincetown’s history, continuity, and change. We'll see. I do know one thing’s for sure: I’ll be coming back next summer with my fiancé! (wedding in P-Town anyone?)

Enjoy 44 photos from Cohen's 'Portraits in Provincetown', AFTER THE JUMP...

(you may recognize a few faces, especially near the end)

Visit Cohen's website here and his blog, A Minute for Minute here.

EDC_PortraitsOfProvincetown_Towleroad_005

Continue reading "47 Portraits of People in Provincetown and a Chat with Photographer Emil Cohen: PHOTOS" »


Check Out This Stunning View of Provincetown Shot by a Drone: VIDEO

Boatslip

Videographer David Cox brought his DJI Phantom Vision drone to Provincetown, Massachusetts to document some of the resort town's many appealing features including the Cape Cod National Seashore, the picturesque harbor, the Pilgrim Monument, the bustling tea dance, as well as last week's costumed Comic Book Carnival Parade (see our photo gallery HERE), much of it from a great height and in glorious HD.

His clip will make those of you who love this place feel the urge to "come home."

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

Parade

Continue reading "Check Out This Stunning View of Provincetown Shot by a Drone: VIDEO" »


Provincetown's Comic Book Carnival Springs to Life in These 120 Sexy, Superpower-ful Instagram Pics: PHOTOS

Justice

Every year in August more than 90,000 people descend on the gay and lesbian resort destination of Provincetown, Massachusetts for the town's annual Carnival celebration. This year, balmy, late summer temperatures combined with festive vacation spirits turned out animated characters and 'Cape crusaders' in force for 2014's theme: Comic Book Capers.

Roys

We've collected 120 of our favorite Instagram pics featuring more Supermen, X-Men, Batmen than you can leap in a single bound along with a few Poison Ivies, a couple of Hat Sisters, an Iron Man, a dozen Robins, the Flash, a Green Lantern or two, Smurfs, Babs, Captain America, a group of Roy Lichtenstein gals, more than one Ambiguously Gay Duo, Wonder Women, a few Drag Race celebutantes, the nation's supply of spandex, and a few guys who are just plain Super.

Watch the comics come to life in the nation's LGBT playground, AFTER THE JUMP...

Also, don't miss our Instagram galleries from BEAR WEEK and FAMILY WEEK.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram at TLRD for more photos from Provincetown this summer.

Couple

Continue reading "Provincetown's Comic Book Carnival Springs to Life in These 120 Sexy, Superpower-ful Instagram Pics: PHOTOS" »


An Accidental Bear Week in Provincetown: VIDEO

Accidentalbear

Our friend, the SF blogger Accidental Bear (aka Mike Enders), spent a week in Provincetown during Bear Week and chronicled his adventures, which included riding in the dunes, heading to Herring Cove beach, leaping into the water from Captain Jack's Wharf, cooking with friends, building bonfires, collecting beard tips, and biking down Commercial Street to visit with some of the purveyor's of the town's finest baked goods and t-shirts. All-in-all, a pretty perfect week.

With appearances by Brewster McCall, Frank Vasello, Jim Landé, Big Dipper, and Josh Patner.

Enjoy the town with him, AFTER THE JUMP...

Bonfire

Continue reading "An Accidental Bear Week in Provincetown: VIDEO" »


#Instacute – The 30 Most Adorable Photos From Gay ‘Family Week’ in Provincetown

Family_week_1

It's Family Week here in Provincetown - with Family Equality Council and COLAGE welcoming LGBTQ parents, children and friends from around the world to this beautiful beach town at the tip of Cape Cod.

With a schedule full of outdoor adventures, Chevy test drives, family dances, beach campfires, and pajama party movie nights, there've been plenty of activities to entertain kids and adults alike. 

We've picked out 30 of our favorite photos from the fun and festive week, which you can check out AFTER THE JUMP...

Be sure to follow us on Instagram at TLRD for more photos from Provincetown this summer. And if you're interested in finding out what this town will be up to throughout the month of August, click HERE.

Family_Week_2

Continue reading "#Instacute – The 30 Most Adorable Photos From Gay ‘Family Week’ in Provincetown" »


August Has Arrived: If You're Headed to Provincetown, Sign Up With Us at RSVPtown!

Is it August already? We've been having an amazing time meeting so many of our readers and making new friends in Provincetown this summer and wanted to remind those of you who are coming in August to sign up for Towleroad's Pop-Up Gay Summer Camp at RSVPtown because we'll have special deals from local merchants, plus more tickets and summer books to give away all the way through Labor Day weekend.

And if you're in town and haven't signed up please come by our Camp Cart in front of the Crown & Anchor at 247 Commercial Street and say hi, pick up a beach bag, and have a photo taken with your friends!

Some shows of interest this month: Channing

CAROL CHANNING AND TOMMY TUNE on August 7th at Town Hall Auditorium: "Two Broadway legends. One unforgettable night. Tony Award winners Carol Channing and Tommy Tune come together and make their Provincetown debut for an evening of conversation and stories. The performance will chronicle Ms. Channing’s phenomenal career, moderated by Nine Time Tony Award winner song and dance man Tommy Tune. Who can ask for anything more?"

AUDITION co-hosted by DRAG RACE WINNER BIANCA DEL RIO on August 5 at Paramount Room, Crown & Anchor: "Legendary performer Kevin Aviance and drag superstar Marti Gould Cummings have descended upon Provincetown to host AUDITIONS, a new weekly talent and variety show for the Cape’s most talented (and sometimes deliciously talentless) acts."

SANDRA BERNHARD on August 10th & 11th at Paramount Room, Crown & Anchor: "The Crown & Anchor is thrilled to welcome back Sandra Bernhard, in her own one-of-a-kind live show, 'Sandyland,' that sharply blends theatre, rock-n-roll and stand-up with a little burlesque & cabaret. Sandra will appear in the Paramount Room on Sunday, August 10th and Monday, August 11th, 2014, as part of her current national tour. A compelling performer who loves to engage her audience with personal provocative and deeply emotional content, 'Sandyland' is not to be missed."

LINDA EDER on August 18th & 19th at Paramount Room, Crown & Anchor: "Linda Eder's diverse repertoire spans Broadway, standards, pop, country and jazz. Her Broadway debut, for which she was rewarded with a Drama Desk nomination, sent her already rapidly rising star blazing across the sky, securing her spot as one of America's most beloved singers and dynamic live performers."

We'll be giving away tickets so sign up at RSVPtown and indicate the week you're coming to be eligible.

Special thanks to Fred Schneider's Monster Blend and Breyting Community Roaster for keeping us wired at our weekly Towleroad Pop-Up Gay Summer Camp coffee meet-ups. You all may remember Fred Schneider from the B-52s. Now he's making his own coffee. Check it out and order some here!

Out friends at the Kiehl's store (250 Commercial Street) tell us that on August 9 and 10 you can get 15% off your purchase and Kiehl's will donate it to amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. This is a discount available everywhere, not only in Provincetown!

LittlereefThis week's featured summer reading giveaway is LITTLE REEF (AND OTHER STORIES) by Michael Carroll.

From Key West to Maine, Michael Carroll’s debut collection of stories depicts the lives of characters who are no longer provincial but are not yet cosmopolitan. These women and their gay male friends are “B-listers” of a new, ironic, media-soaked culture. They live in a rich but increasingly divided America, a weirdly paradoxical country increasingly accepting of gay marriage but still marked by prejudice, religious strictures, and swaths of poverty and hopelessness. Carroll shows us people stunned by the shock of the now, who have forgotten their pasts and can’t envision a future.

We're also giving away copies of CARSICK: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America by John Waters (Macmillan), THE TALKING DAY by Michael Klein (Sibling Rivalry Press), WASN'T TOMORROW WONDERFUL by Kenneth Walsh (Magnus Books), THE SNOW QUEEN by Michael Cunningham (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), PLAYING BY THE BOOK by S. Chris Shirley (Magnus Books), and JONATHAN, a journal of gay men's fiction also from Sibling Rivalry Press. Jonathan is a journal featuring short fiction by queer male writers.

Carnival Week is coming!

Sign up at RSVPtown so you won't miss anything, and make sure to indicate which weeks you are coming to be eligible for special giveaways!


Trending



Towleroad - Blogged