September 4th, 2014
If you ask anyone about Brooklyn, they’ll probably say things like ‘hip’ or ‘cool’ or mention Williamsburg. To me, Brooklyn has been synonymous with things like Jamaican beef patties, hip-hop, brownstones, and brown people. In the wake of the rapid gentrification of Brooklyn, along with numerous American cities, I wanted to explore the Brooklyn I’d heard about as a kid from my West Indian friends in middle school: Carnival, the Brooklyn Mos Def talks about in ‘Black on Both Sides’, the Brooklyn I came to love in Spike Lee films like ‘She’s Gotta Have It’, the Brooklyn I feared no longer existed because of gentrification.
With this in mind, I set out to document Brooklyn over the course of three days, my way, using the Replichrome filters exclusively. I wanted a little bit of the gritty, nostalgic feeling you get from shooting film to document this weekend. Thinking back on all the disposable cameras I would shoot on my early trips around NYC, I knew I wanted these images to have the feeling of snapshots but to look beautiful and carefully considered at the same time.
I gave myself a few rules for documenting and, most importantly, experiencing Brooklyn:
1) Have conversations with everyone. I wanted to get a sense of how folks felt about their borough and neighborhoods. For instance, one person gave me this little gem about Brooklyn: “You ask people from Manhattan where they’re from and they say ‘New York City’ but you ask people from Brooklyn where they’re from and they say ‘I’m from BROOKLYN!’ People here love their borough. They are proud to be from Brooklyn.”
2) Walk. As a photographer, walking is my main mode of transportation because it allows me to observe and seek moments to photograph. Walking also helps you feel like part of community you are visiting, as opposed to feeling like an outsider or tourist.
3) Skip Williamsburg. I wanted to challenge my notions about where to find “Brooklyn cool” while in Brooklyn. So, I stuck to neighborhoods that aren’t always first to be mentioned when talking about Brooklyn. The borough is so large and the neighborhoods are so varied that it’s worth it to explore places you might not always think to go.
I’ve never had a better, more fulfilling trip to NYC and I can’t wait to go back to Brooklyn again!