Guide to the John Tully photographs, 2014-2018
Collection consists of thirty color inkjet prints from a body of work titled "Shifting Sands" by photographer John Tully. The images were taken at the North Carolina coast, and include natural areas such as beaches along the Outer Banks and coastal forests in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, and human environments such as coastal highways, piers, abandoned beachfront properties. There are also some portraits of people. The photographs are accompanied by captions written by the photographer and by the artist's statement. Together, photographs and text call out the environmental, economic, and social consequences brought on by natural changes as well as by human-created climate change. The prints measure 17x22 (20) and 11x17 (10) inches. This work received the 2018 ADA Award for Documentarians of Environmental Change. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
- Collection Number
- John Tully photographs
- Tully, John, 1985-
- 2.0 Linear Feet, 2 boxes
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Materials in English
Collection consists of thirty color inkjet prints from the body of work Shifting Sands by photographer John Tully. The images were taken on the North Carolina coast, and include natural areas such as beaches along the Outer Banks and coastal forests in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, and human-built environments such as sand-covered highways, piers and jetties, and abandoned beachfront properties. There are also some portraits of people.
Twenty prints measure 17x22 inches and ten are sized 11x17 inches. The photographs are accompanied by captions written by the photographer and by the artist's statement on the project. This work received the 2018 Archive of Documentary Arts Collection Award for Documentarians of Environmental Change.
From the artist's statement: "The work in this project documents effects of rising sea levels on North Carolina's Outer Banks. Already unstable sand bars that naturally shift and migrate, climate change is exacerbating existing issues and revealing new ones, forcing residents to grapple with the impacts of a changing landscape."
Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
Prints are arranged in original order as assigned by the photographer.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research. Images may only be used for educational, non-commercial purposes; any other use requires the photographer's permission.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], John Tully photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Windblown sand at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore is responsible for road closures and constant maintenance. The highway is a vital north-to-south artery and connects island communities. As the land narrows, however, taxpayers are increasingly paying to maintain or fully rebuild roads. In the town of Kitty Hawk, this same section of road collapsed twice within a few months in 2015, prompting 1,000 feet of sandbag wall. Maintenance and repairs have well exceeded $104 million.
Sand encroaches the now demolished Beacon Motor Lodge in Nags Head, North Carolina. Oceanfront motels once dotted the landscape, but have been unable to compete with personal properties rented out by individual owners.
The Outer Banks is a popular surfing destination on the East Coast. It's known for steep faces and wind-blown conditions.
The small fishing community at Stumpy Point hosts an annual oyster feast for residents and visitors. Around 243 live in Stumpy Point, which borders the wetlands, swamps, and maritime forest found in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.
â€‹ It took years for this condemned home and a string of others like it in Nags Head to be demolished. Dare County is the only county in North Carolina to have an equal number of people and houses. Forty-four percent of those houses are seasonal homes, according to a 2010 U.S. census.
Windblown sand covers North Carolina Highway 12, causing road closures. Maintenance and repairs are increasingly becoming a burden to taxpayers.
Waves crash onto a stretch of Highway 12 which was previously protected by a sand dune. A main artery for much of the Outer Banks, stretches of Highway 12 are regularly destroyed by passing storms, sometimes weeks after being rebuilt.
A big wave leaves beachgoers laughing at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Kitty Hawk and three other coastal towns spent collective $41.7 million on a beach renourishment projects in 2017. Beach renourishment involves dumping eroded sand back onto the beach.
Residents and visitors survey the damage from Hurricane Joaquin, which struck in 2015. There is an attraction to the ocean throughout the evolution of a hurricane.
Threatened by storms, erosion, and rising sea levels, coastal homes in Rodanthe, North Carolina are being loaded onto trailers and moved further from the shore.
In the summer, rental properties fetch thousands of dollars, yet they remain vacant for most of the winter. The Outer Banks brings in nearly $1 billion a year through tourism-related spending in the summer, when housing becomes difficult to find for long term tenants
As the world braces for rising seas, these islands and their inhabitants are engaged in a battle with nature. Man-made structures like buildings and roads prevent the natural migration of sand but exacerbate the impacts of eroding coastlines. Residents are resilient and learn to live within this constant tug-of-war,using the land and having a relationship with the water, even in February.
Visitors and residents often flock to the shoreline to view the power of incoming storms
A development boom beginning after WWII led to increased buildings to accommodate an influx of visitors. Dare County, which includes the majority of the barrier islands, is the only county in North Carolina to have nearly an equivalent number of people as there are housing structures. At 35,000 residents (U.S. Census 2010), there are 34,000 housing units. However, according to a study by the Carolina Population Center at UNC, "44% of Dare's housing units were seasonal housing."
In areas just west of the Outer Banks like the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, ghost forests are signs of the effects of an unstable habitat where the freshwater marshes are rapidly turning brackish and eventually to complete salt water.
The Outer Banks and barrier islands serve as protection for low-lying inland areas now inhabited by communities stretching throughout the North Carolina piedmont region. As sea levels rise, the naturally migrating islands' role as a natural shelter could change.
There are approximately 33,920 permanent residents of Dare County. However, that number greatly increases to upwards of 300,000 during the seasonal summer months with visitors, workers and tourists flooding to the beaches.
The small fishing community at Stumpy Point hosts an annual oyster feast for residents and visitors. Around 243 live in Stumpy Point, which borders the wetlands, swamps, and maritime forest found in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. These coastal forests are not only important habitats for wildlife, they also act as buffers from storms, protecting interior communities, such as the fishing community of Stumpy Point, from storm surges.
Sand dunes and beach nourishment projects are often the only protection inland properties have from encroaching seas during storms.
A stretch of road along Highway 12 in Kitty Hawk where a sand dune once stood until it was eroded by waves from a storm. The dune and stretch of road has been repaired and rebuilt several times. As the world braces for sea level rise, this stretch of sand is and its residents are well into an infinite battle with nature. What would otherwise be a natural adaptation to rising sea levels, the presence of man-made structures like buildings and roads prevent this natural migration, and exacerbate the problem. The result is increased shoreline erosion,forest retreat, and short-sighted spending
Jockey's Ridge, now a state park, is the largest natural sand dune on the East Coast. Considered to be a living dune, it is believed strong water currents from hurricanes and storms created sand shoals which, over many years, were blown by wind inland in a migratory fashion.
A network of sand dunes spans the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in Frisco, North Carolina. The dunes act as a natural barrier between homes and the unforgiving Atlantic. In 2010, state officials said the ocean could rise 39 inches,all but eliminating the Outer Banks. The announcement sparked heated debate between real estate industry and environmentalists.
Waves break just offshore at dusk in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
When the Cape Hatteras Fishing Pier opened in 1962, it was 20 feet wide and 500 feet long. Years of storms damaged it beyond repair, and it closed to the public in 2010 after Hurricane Earl struck North Carolina
Bayview Drive is the single road into the community of Stumpy Point, North Carolina. Due to its position in the Pamlico Sound as well as low elevation above sea level, flooding is frequent and increasing.
Members of the Bayview Chapel in Stumpy Point, North Carolina gather and comfort one another the Sunday after Hurricane Florence downgraded and changed its original course, which was said to hit the Outer Banks head-on as a Category 4 Hurricane.
Robby Midgett in front of his house in Stumpy Point, North Carolina. He said he is a ninth generation resident of the community. Making his living largely on the water between fishing, crabbing and shrimping, he said he has never seen storm track the way Hurricane Florence did. After Hurricane Irene flooded his home, he jacked his house and put it on stilts.
Landscaping and construction is a year-round industry on the Outer Banks, fueled by beautification and upkeep for visitors as well as maintaining property following storms. High waves from Hurricane Florence left several feet of sand on front lawns and driveways of properties situated on the coast.
John Tully (b. 1985) is a documentary photographer currently based in New Hampshire whose work focuses on the backyards and backroads that make up the peripheries of a community. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and student at the Danish School of Media and Journalism, John worked as a staff photographer for several daily newspapers around the country.
He has received several international awards for journalism as well as his photo editing work. In 2015, Time Magazine named him as one of 50 Instagram photographers to follow in all 50 states for North Carolina, and again in 2016 after moving to New Hampshire. The thread in his work is about the idea of home and search for community.
Tully is a recipient of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University 2018 Award for Documentarians of Environmental Change.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Beaches -- Photographs
- Climatic changes -- North Carolina -- Atlantic Coast
- Coast changes -- North Carolina -- Economic aspects
- Documentary Photography -- North Carolina
- Documentary photography -- Outer Banks (N.C.)
- Landscape photography
- Nature -- effect of human beings on
- People and nature -- Pictorial works
The John Tully photographs were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2018.
Processed and described by Edward Coles, Paula Jeannet and Alanna Styer, January 2019.
Accession(s) represented in this collection guide: 2018-0180.
The color photographs in this collection were printed on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Ultra Smooth 305g paper, using an Epson SureColor P800 inkjet printer and 8-Color Ultrachrome HD Pigment inks.