Close this search box.

well established and here for you

independently owned and operated since 1977

Inside Out: Photographer Wayne Bund Captures Pandemic Portraits

by Steve Desroches

News of the coronavirus certainly dipped into our consciousness shortly after the New Year. But come mid-March the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic slammed into Provincetown like a tsunami, and like much of the Northeast, people went into a months-long lockdown. It was disorienting and isolating. Provincetown is ultimately a small town, and while quiet in the winter, there is still a tight-knit community. So being confined to home during the quietest time of the year anyway without being able to socialize with friends and neighbors made the start of the pandemic especially bleak. Come the last Sunday of March at 7 p.m. the town erupted into hoots and hollers, car horns, and the sounds of banging pots and pans. It was all the townies letting each other know that we’re all still here and we are in this together, but apart.

This being Provincetown, creative impulses never stop. And on top of that it’s hard to find a town that has been documented more than Provincetown, be it in paintings, photos, poems, plays, literature, or other means. How is an artist to capture the enormity of what is going on when they must do it alone, and apart from anyone else?

Michelle Axelson by Wayne Bund

Photographers around the world seemed to be the first to create something that really resonated: taking portraits of people in their homes through windows and doors while the photographer maintains social distancing outside, creating “pandemic portraits.” Wayne Bund, who had moved to Provincetown last October, became inspired by his friend, Seattle-based photographer Steven Miller’s pandemic portraits and decided to do his own here on Cape Cod.

“I was lamenting about having no creative outlet and having all of this anxiety,” says Bund. “I needed something to do other than cooking kimchi and playing video games on my Nintendo Switch.”

Bund began by photographing friends, but then expanded his reach via social media and took over 40 portraits in Provincetown, Truro, Eastham, and Orleans. His portraits of Cape Cod households beautifully capture a community through its individuals and families. Activist and owner of the feminist bookstore Womencrafts Michelle Axelson holding her megaphone inside the shop she lives above. Steven Azar in the warm glow of his Stowaway Inn. Artist Donna Pomponio working at her home studio. The Campbell-Foster family with their dog Pippin peeking above the windowsill. These moments in normal times might go unnoticed, as so much of the Outer Cape’s life is out in nature or along the electric avenue that is Commercial Street. But especially during the early days of the pandemic, these intimate moments became a collective experience, even if solitary in practice. While isolated from one another, the portraits as a body of work contain a narrative of shared experience.

The Campbell-Foster Family by Wayne Bund

“I definitely felt I was getting my finger on the pulse of what it was like to live in Provincetown during the pandemic,” says Bund. “I felt like I developed a wonderful connection with so many people through this project.”

A native Oregonian, Bund is heading home to be with family during this time of high anxiety, and he plans to take pandemic portraits when he arrives in the Pacific Northwest, as well. He also plans to publish a book or zine of his collection once it’s finished and to exhibit those photos here in Provincetown in 2021. While he grew up on the West Coast it was while a student at the University of Oregon at Eugene that he first heard the sirens’ call of Provincetown. As part of his studies he’d read the works of Michael Cunningham, Mark Doty, Mary Oliver, and Paul Lisicky.  And he couldn’t help but notice all of those writers had something in common.

“Every time I would read the author’s bio it would say something about this place, about Provincetown” says Bund. “I was like, what is it about this place that attracts so many writers and artists? I’ve got to go there.”

Cape and Islands State Senator Julian Cyr
by Wayne bund

The gravitational pull of Provincetown grew once his cousin Daniel Bund moved to town in the mid-2000s and, over the course of several summers, became Showgirls royalty, performing as his drag queen persona Debbie Downer. With her rolling skating number to “Xanadu” and a memorable Bollywood dance number, Debbie Downer was a stand out star of the young crop of queens in Provincetown then. His cousin’s stories of town made it impossible not to finally make the trip, which finally happened last summer, before making the leap to move here that fall. Current events cut that stay short and Bund hopes to continue his family’s legacy in Provincetown someday soon when some sense of normalcy returns to the country.

“I guess it was meant for Bund blood to exist upon the shores of Provincetown,” says Bund. “Some people bow down in respect when I saw my cousin is Debbie Downer. But I would love to come back to Provincetown. I do not think my ode to the zip code 02657 is over.”

Recent Posts

Sign up for our Newsletter

Scroll to Top

Sign up for our Newsletter

Graphic Artist

Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

Keep in touch

Fill in your details and I will get back to you in no time.

Phone: + 1 508-487-1000 ext 6
[email protected] 14 Center St. Provincetown MA, 02657