Showing posts with label Rockaways. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rockaways. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Last Year Around Thanksgiving in the Rockaways

I took this image last year after Hurricane Sandy had hit the Rockaway's peninsula. The two young girls were walking under the S train tracks pushing two granny carts filled with provisions they had accumulated from various relief organizations. They were on their way to look and see what might be available for the taking on that day.

"Collecting Good", Rockaways, NYC, 2012. ©Juliana Beasley

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Yvette Several Weeks After Hurricane Sandy

I met Yvette in her one room bungalow several weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit the Rockaways. She invited me into her sparce dwelling. She sat on a chair with a small table with an urn upon it beside her. Her boyfriend had just taken her frightening pitbull for a walk so, we could have a moment to talk and I began to photograph her. As she began to tell the story of how she, her boyfriend and dog managed to survive the high flood tides of Hurricane Sandy, she began to cry and so did my intern, Maddy. She was completely traumatized weeks after the event.

They had lived through the storm.

When the flood waters became dangerously high, she and her boyfriend climbed with their pit bull to the safety of a loft space in their small room, bringing along her mother’s ashes in an urn. Most of her possessions were washed away and when I spoke to her she continued to live in the bungalow contaminated by moldy walls.

I wonder if her bungalow is still standing as there was word about that the landlord was intent on selling the property and bulldozing the properties down. I hope to return this month.

I'm sending my blessings out today to Yvette and all of those this week who survived Hurricane Sandy last year.

"Yvette Crying", Rockaways, NYC, 2012. ©Juliana Beasley

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bob and His Cat After Hurricane Sandy

A couple of weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit the NYC metro area, I went out to the Rockaway Park to look for some of the friends I still knew out there. I walked down 115th St., preparing myself for the worst. I was thinking of my friend, Bob, who I had known for about 4 years and who lived in a camper in the parking lot next to one of the several SRO's on that block. I was amazed in 2011 when he and his camper had survived pretty much unscathed after Hurricane Irene, but I could only imagine the worst after Hurricane Sandy had hit the peninsula.

How could a fragile old camper filled stuffed with personal collections of Bob's eclectic ephemera possibly survive the floods and torrential tides of Hurricane Sandy. I imagined him and his large brown mastiff dog, Zeus floating down the Boulevard, holding on for dear life and onto the cramped camper, he had called home for so many years. As I passed one boarding house after the next, I feared that I would find simply an empty lot with remnants of his personal belongings interwoven between the chain link fence that surrounded the piece of land where he had settled his portable home.

And there he was!!

He was standing in the sunshine and wrapped up well, his glasses broken and taped together and propped up on his nose.

"Bob and His Cat After Hurricane Sandy", Rockaways, NYC, 2013. ©Juliana Beasley

 "Bob!", I yelled. "I didn't think I would find you. I was worried about you. I've been trying to call your number. But, there's been no service. I really didn't think I would find you here."

"Eh! This was nothing!," he said, as he threw up his arm and waved his hand in the air as if he was about to swat away a pesty fly. "Now, Vietnam.. that was bad. Next to Vietnam this was nothing!! Of course, I'm OK!!"

Monday, October 21, 2013

Janet After Hurricane Sandy

I took this photograph of Janet in Ma's boarding house apartment on 115th St. I have known and been visiting "Ma" as she is known by most of her friends and neighbors but her real name is Patty. Janet and her husband lived in a basement apartment across the street on 115th St. During Hurricane Sandy there apartment was completely flooded and everything they owned was completely destroyed. In the aftermath, they were left completely empty handed and moved into a "temporary" apartment in the same SRO building where they lived before the storm.

Janet is wearing a coat and in fact, all the clothes that her and her husband, Matthew wore during the weeks after the storm had been donated to them through various relief organizations.

"Janet in Bear Coat in Ma's Kitchen After Hurricane Sandy", Rockaways, NYC. 10/12. ©Juliana Beasley

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Anniversary of Hurricane Sandy and My Work in the News

I am simply going to copy and paste what my agent Jeffrey Smith at Contact Press Images wrote yesterday when he posted the good news on Facebook that my long term photo book project was given some media attention on both Slate and Creative Time Reports. He says it so well and is such an articulate writer that I felt that it would be best to just leave this announcement in his own words.

I am terribly grateful that after years of hard work on this project that I am surrounded with such wonderful, thoughtful and caring and super intuitive and bright photo friends and a great photo agency to boot. I also must thank the wonderful Zoe Strauss who referred Marisa Mazria Katz--the editor at Creative Time Report--to me last year when the hurricane hit the peninsula.

I plan to post an image a day on my blog from the Rockaways that I shot either before or after Hurricane Sandy hit the peninsula and forever changed the hearts and lives of those who lived out there.

Here is an excerpt from my piece on Creative Time Reports:

"Hurricane Sandy marked the abrupt and unplanned end of my 10-year project photographing the once-forgotten neighborhood of Rockaway Park, known to the locals as Rockaway Beach. I first came out to the boardwalk at Beach 116th Street in the summer of 2002. I stood outside the Sand Bar and was instantly mesmerized when I witnessed a bartender jump over a bar with a baseball bat in his hands, chasing a disruptive and unruly customer off the premises. As I looked around the bar at the patrons—a mix of disheveled, raucous regulars and sunburnt beachgoers guzzling down cheap beer from plastic cups—I immediately became enamored with a scene that appeared to be a hundred miles away from the gentrified and homogenized streets of Manhattan. The neighborhood felt untouched by time. There wasn’t one Starbucks to be found on the entire peninsula. I decided to return the next week with my camera."

And here is a photo that I previously published, but recently found in my collection. This was taken in 2008 in front of Gloria Manor adult home where two of the residents, a married couple who share the same room had just bought some soft serve ice cream from the Mr. Softee truck that arrived like clock work in the afternoon, parked outside and served ice cream to the residents.

"Ester and David at the Mr. Softee Truck", Summer 2008, Rockaways, NYC. ©Juliana Beasley

Friday, April 13, 2012

Counter Service at the Newstand

I found this photo in my archives. This lunch counter no longer exists. You could could sit in the back of the newspaper store and have an egg sandwich and coffee and read the paper. Remember the good ol' days of Woolworth? Every time, I used to go with my dad, I'd beg him to buy me a hot dog and sit with me at the counter.... then maybe an ice cream.

I only wish I had taken more photographs in this place.

"Lunch Counter in the Rockaways", Rockaways, NYC, 2004. Juliana Beasley

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Stephanie and Her New Kitty Kat

 "Stephanie's New Kitten #1", Rockaways, NYC. March, 2012. Juliana Beasley.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tara #2

"Tara, Charlie, and Princess", Rockaways, NYC, 2002. Juliana Beasley

             Over the last year, Bobby had left several messages on my voice mail, one an invitation to Memorial Day BBQ at Jacob Riis Park, another from both him and Tara inviting me to come out and visit. I was walking towards the Path Train, listening to my voice mails one day in March. I became concerned when I heard Bobby’s message.
             "Hey, Juliana. It's Bobby! Are you in the country or are you still in France? I have some bad news. Tara was in the hospital. She’s sick. Call me when you get a chance", he said softly.
             I sat down on a stoop on Mercer Street. I called him the right away. My throat felt tight.
             "Juliana, we thought you weren't in the country. I would have called sooner. I got some bad news. Tara had to go the hospital and they told her she has 3-6 months to live if she don’t stop drinking. They say it’s her liver. She ain’t listening to nobody. She don’t want to hear it. She's still drinking. I don't know what to do. It's pretty serious. You still out of the country?" he asked.           
“Can’t you talk to her about this?” I said. “Is there something I can do?”
            “I think you should just come out here. I don’t know how long she got”.
             I heard a shrill of laughter in the back round.
             “Hey, Bobby. Who you talking to?” I heard Tara’s voice in the back round.
"Look, Juliana,” Bobby said. “Tara just walked in the door. She don’t want to talk about any of this stuff. So, don't bring it up.”
“Hey Tara. It’s Juliana. Do you want to talk to her? Here take the phone.” He sounded exhausted. Tara depleted almost everyone of patience despite her childish charm.
             "Hey, Juliana you still in France? When are you coming back? Where are you anyway? When you coming out here?" she asked like a toddler shooting questions rapid fire, one after the other, without necessarily any interest in the answers.
             Tara sounded giddy, excited and emotionally unavailable. I could imagine her holding her mainstay, a plastic big gulp cup, endlessly filled with beer, and eternally attached to her right hand.
             “I’m coming out soon. I’m busy with work. I’ll try to make it out there in a couple of weeks”, I said. I had every intention of going out there but never did.
Bobby had given me fair warning. Tara had a death sentence. She was 41, she would be 42 this year and she was dying of cirrhosis of the liver. That was the last time I heard her voice.

For the last seven years, traveled out to the Rockaways.  I brought my camera to photograph many of people whom had shared themselves and their lives in front of the lens.  Only twenty miles from midtown Manhattan or a one hour trip on the subway, whenever, I get off the train at the last stop, I felt like I have I had taken a trip to another country, maybe even another planet. With the passage of time, many city neighborhoods, now gentrified, were left indistinguishable to others, but not Rockaway Park. Many of the buildings and the people I portrayed in my project felt like abandoned relics of another past decade. Many of the locals seemed hermetically sealed in a bubble, cut off from the rest of NYC. During my time spent out there, I witnessed the real devastation of poverty, mental illness and addiction upon the lives of my friends and acquaintances. They were occupied with the survival of day-to-day life. Colleen’s daughter gets pregnant again, Bryan dies way to young, and Phil was beaten near death in an act of gang violence. For many of them, anything beyond the scope of the 10-block radius was foreign territory. They read their own newspaper called “The Wave”. They are loyal to their peninsula and the various neighborhoods that make up the Rockaway’s. Liberal-minded Manhattanites represent a threat to their secular way of life and for the most part, are not welcome unless it is tourist season and they have money to spend.
 I remember one summer, early morning; I walked onto the veranda of my friend Charlie’s SRO. The cool air from the ocean wrapped around my body and activated my senses. I was surprised at how well rested and limber my body felt. I had slept on the floor in Charlie’s room the night before. He woke me several times during the night, “Juliana. Hey, stop snoring.”
Two older men, sitting on beat up office chairs on the porch wished me a good morning. I had gotten to know them through past visits. As much as they seemed fond and accepting of my untimely visits, the strange old camera that I carried around my neck, and my endless probing questions about the neighborhood, they liked to make jokes on my account. I didn’t fit in. They smelled it and knew it.
            “Where are you going?” they asked as I was walking down the stairs of the SRO.
            “I’m going to get some coffee,” I responded.
            “You won’t find a Starbucks out here, “ they laughed and snorted.
            “Hey, I know that,” I responded defiantly, “I’m on my way to Dunkin Donuts,”
But, I knew that they were right; if there were a Starbucks in the neighborhood, I would have dropped my loyalty to D&D and in line with my city-slicker ways, would have picked up a two-dollar “doppio on ice”.
Over the years of photographing out in the Rockaway’s, I had occasionally mentioned when I would leave the country for a photo festival or a show. When I returned to the neighborhood after a long hiatus they always asked me if I had been out of the country. Beyond the blinds of their provincial and forgotten neighborhood, I often believed they imagined I lived a jet-set life, flying from one continent to another when really, I was just one state away in Jersey. Often, I was just at home with Moishe and Howard. Maybe they thought I didn’t exist at all outside of the Rockaways. I was certainly out of sight, and felt very much out of their minds when I was anywhere else.
            Last winter, my life wasn’t the perfect fictitious story of an artist globe-trotting from one show to the next. Unlike, my friends and acquaintances out in the Rockaway’s might have imagined (or at least what I imagined they imagined), my life was hardly glamorous.  My life was not carefree. I wasn’t flying around the world.  My life was on standby. I felt more like a mouse stuck in the gelatinous glue of a sticky trap. Everything appeared lackluster. All the familiar signs were there. I was no longer in remission. I was in the middle of major depressive episode.
My antidepressant, Nardil, the fluorescent orange pills that I had been taking for the last seven years, once worked, now no longer worked.  I called my psychiatrist for an appointment. I needed to be tweaked.
I went to his office in midtown Manhattan. I took the R and got off at 60th and 5th Avenue. I walked briskly with purpose, blinders on and eyes focused straight ahead. The irony of walking past Barney’s and the DKNY store on either side provided the wicked reminder of a time when I still had shopping privileges beyond the rare underwear or bra purchase at Kohl’s or Marshalls, of a time rid of financial worries, and of a time when I still believed that I could make a living as a working artist.
“I don’t think the Nardil is working anymore.” I said to Dr. Long.  “It hasn’t been working for a long time. Anyway, didn’t we want to try to put me on Ritalin? Anyway, I remember you scored off the charts on that ADD diagnostic exam I gave you before you left the last time.”
No, surprise to me that I passed for positive since most of the books on my shelves remained half read.
“Plus, “ he added, “I think it might jump start you out of your depression”.
I was ready to take any measures not only to concentrate but to get out of bed even if it meant getting hooked on speed, at least for the time being.
Nardil presented all kinds of problems when mixed with a long list of foods and many other drugs—namely sudden death. Nardil is one of the oldest anti-depressants on the market. I have never met anyone else on the medication. The only other person I ever heard of that had been prescribed Nardil is Marilyn Monroe. This makes me feel a little more glamorous, despite the fact that she died of a fatal overdose.
I sat across from him, a large wooden desk between us.  He shuffled through his notes, refreshing his memory of past trials, questioning me ever so often of my previous success or troubles with various medications. I looked at the creepy rubber band dispenser, an arm’s distance away. The transparent Lucite human head was missing the top of his skull. A clean lateral slice had left it topless, exposing a purposeful cavity: the perfect compliment to any psychiatrist’s flotsam of office supplies complimentary of pharmaceutical reps. I reached over, dipped my hand into the top of the head, pulled out a rubber band, wrapping it around my fingers while we talked.
Juliana”, Dr. Long said. “We can give it a try but you remember you have to go through a 3 week wash out period once you taper off the Nardil before I put you on a SSRI. It won’t be pleasant”.            
I left elated his office elated with the prospect of new meds that possibility could lift me out of my depression.  Yes, I want speed.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bungalows and No Boundaries... Speaking My Truth

"Joel, Baby Joel and Stephanie On Bungalow Porch #1", Rockaways, NYC, 2011. Juliana Beasley.

I met Joel, Stephanie and "Baby Joel" (as he is called)  this past summer when I went to Joanne's granddaughter's birthday party. I had never met anybody who lived in the bungalows out in the Rockaways. I went about 30 blocks away from my usual location at 116th Street in Rockaway Park. I hope to continue photographing them and other people living in the bungalows during the next year.

They were kind enough to open their door to me.  Joel's parents, his brothers, his two sisters and his nephew share another bungalow in the same complex.

"Joel and Baby Joel in the Sky", Rockaways, NYC, 2011. Juliana Beasley.

"Baby Joel and Mother Stephanie #1", Rockaways, NYC, 2011. Juliana Beasley.

I am posting a loose edit. Why? Sometimes, I am afraid that I do not make the right final choice. But, I'm sure this is a common feeling amongst photographers, especially now that so much is shot in the digital world. I only get 12 shots per roll. And I'm thankful for that. It makes me focus. And I like to focus.

On another and more profound note:

I want to apologize to my readers or those of you who have kept up with me on my blog. I think I apologize at least quarterly for the same reason. I am not writing as much despite the fact that I love to write and generally, it helps me organize my thoughts and get in touch not only with my creative side but just with myself.  Over the last year and a half, I have honestly considered talking very frankly about what has been going on in my life. Some of the stuff is very personal. Actually, most of it is.

In the past, I have written posts that have been brutally forthright about difficult periods (in particular my fight with clinical depression) in my life, as well as joyous ones. I have gotten good feedback. I have also received thankful responses from people going through similar problems. I'll refrain from using the word "issues". So, I hope writing with honesty about my personal struggles, as well as my successes can be of some comfort to someone reading my blog. And open a dialogue about mental illness, irony, stigmatization, inspiration and creativity.

I hesitate only because art does not support me. And how does one present oneself publicly when there is a smoke screen that everything is alright in cyberspace. Facebook is the epitome of creating a persona that is endlessly upbeat and proactive. In the photography Facebook world or network, it's important to keep up this spotless facade of daily success whether it be creatively, emotionally, or most of all financial. One must always be on top of things and informed and super Type A productive. This is by the way, not only my impression.

And yet, many of my photo friends are suffering from personal hardships. Over the last year, I know several artist friends who went on public assistance and food stamps. We don't hear those stories. These are hard working photographers including myself and yet, I still feel like there is this illusion that all is spotless and easy peasy for artists who even have a name in the business. What kind of message is this to show the aspiring young student or enthusiast who doesn't yet understand the sacrifices and endless work that goes into making a living as a photographer?

We as an audience don't see beyond the photo smiles at the gallery openings or the family events. No, one actually talks openly about the economic recession and how it has effected many of their own livelihoods. One friend and fellow blogger, Colin Pantall remarked on this discrepancy of public and private persona and how little photographers talk about the financial difficulties of working and living as a fine art photographer.

The last couple of years have also taken me on a financial and emotional roller coaster of instability. But, I hang on because I love what I do.

I asked Colin, "Should I write about my personal and financial difficulties and even my challenges with depression over a lifetime?"

My concern of a "tell-all diaristic blog" is cemented in the fact that perhaps it would put me at a disadvantage in the editorial, commercial or fine art world-- perhaps, my honesty would hurt my chances at getting the next job that would pay the bills. And so, that is my dilemma. Said and true. Sad and true.

One photographer friend told me that he came out and talked about his battle with anxiety in an interview for a blog. Sadly, he actually lost work because of the blog post and had it taken down. Should I fear the same stigmatization?

Colin's response to my question was something like-- and this is not a quote-- that if we can't be honest about ourselves or in our work "what is the point?". And I agree with that.

Are there any editors out there who would answer this question... or fellow photographers? I would love to hear your feedback.

In the meantime, Merry and Happy Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gabby and Tito

Gabby Getting Hair Dyed,  Rockaways, NYC, 11/11. Juliana Beasley

Story to come soon. In the bungalows from my new work out in the Rockaways. Running out the door to walk Howard and then presenting my work in Lori Grinker's class at ICP this afternoon.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tristan on Mattress

Tristan on Mattress, Belle Harbor, NYC, NY, 10/11. Juliana Beasley

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tristan in Golden Room

Tristan In Golden Light, Belle Harbor, NY, 10/11. Juliana Beasley.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Writing, Writing, Not Writing. Just Start.

The Operating Theater
No good can come of this. Photograph, Lauren Simonutti.

OK, I did say full disclosure in the form of self-portraits and writing. I said that in my last post. And I am not delivering this week or at least not yet. Instead of looking inwards. I am looking outside of myself and not necessarily with any objectivity.

Self-portraits... Now, that feels a lot more challenging and daunting than taking photographs of someone sitting in front of me. Just me alone with my camera. Vulnerable performer or liar fool.

Who will I be? Solitude, reflection, no distractions. Just me talking to my camera. My soliloquy, my silence, my boredom, my melancholy and mania. An inescapable meditation.

How do those self-portrait photographers do it? If you are not presenting yourself as someone other than yourself, how do you be yourself with yourself and present yourself as yourself? Do I seem shallow here? Or maybe just in some mild form of a demented state about who I am and what this person "Juliana" does alone?

I have surely done my time alone. Probably far more than most people I know. But, somehow when I do not share the stage with the other actors, I am a little bewildered. I am lost without someone holding up that mirror that reflects and shines an interdependent relationship of shared personalities.

Sure, I know what I do when I am alone. Probably too much staring at the walls. But, my concern in the process and the product is that it will only be a caricature of myself. I can only imagine myself positioning my body and contorting my face in front of the camera while counting down the seconds before the self-timer sets off the shutter.

This gives me a whole new respect for photographers whom have sat alone with the camera. I'm thinking in particular of the photographer Lauren Simonutti's body of work. I learned about her recently when I found out about her precious edition of hand made books called "No Such Thing As Silence". I would love to write more about her but if you really want to read a great blog interview with her and get the inside story, you must go to Colin Pantall's Blog (which by the way is eclectic, well-written and just one of my favorite blogs.) A good read and yes, inspiring.

I will say one thing: this book comes with feathers and bells attached.

Right now, for me, the starting is the hardest part.

So, return to the external. Last week, I entered new territory. I photographed all weekend and did not take my Rollei TLR with me. No, film. No, big bracket with big flash. No, 30 rolls of 120 film. I put my Canon 5D and flash in a bag filled with batteries and memory cards. So, light and carefree. So, modern!

Yes, I actually spent the weekend as an analog traitor. I shot digital and I loved it. I felt naughty and cheap and very very bad. I felt like a junkie and an explorer on a new adventure... so many gigs of storage, so many clicks of the shutter... and never ever never enough images.

I woke up on Saturday around 11am.  Before sitting up in bed, I had rationalized all the reasons of why I should not gather my lightweight equipment and take a two hour commute by subway out to the Rockaways. The best reason I could come up with-- but it would suffice-- was that it was already too late in the day.

By 3:30pm, I waiting in the local Target for my 4X6" print order to be ready for pick up. I wanted to arrive with photographs to give to my friends. When I got on the Path train in Jersey City headed to WTC where I transfer to the A train out to Queens, it was close to 4pm. I had missed most of the good light.

Diana and Mikey were throwing a birthday party for one of their tenant's little boy who lived in their bungalows. I knew the mother Gabby since before she even became pregnant with little Angelo. I remember the first time I met her four or five years ago. She was sitting on a beat up bed, texting and far away on her cell phone while her friends laughed and partied in a small room in a boarding house near the beach. She looked like a 14 year old kid even though she probably was 18. Her face was angelic.

I looked for Gabby for years. I wanted to photograph her again. I had heard from someone in the neighborhood that she had gotten pregnant and had a baby boy.

"Angelo and Gabby", Rockaways, NYC, 9/11. Juliana Beasley

I didn't find her until recently when I learned she rented and lived with her son in one of the bungalows. No matter who I asked or where I looked I could not find her. I should have known that the past often  catches up to the present.  Chance meetings and reunions happen in their own time... the Rockaways does not work on a schedule and the time table that most people apply to their lives does not exist here. Therefore, when you work in chaos, you have to adopt the rules of chaos... there just aren't any rules.

I found Gabby and Angelo, one day by chance when I was invited to one of my friend's daughter's birthday party in July. There she was just sitting on the porch outside of the bungalow, baby blue paint chipping off the facade. She was smoking a cigarette. She still looked like a kid. Time compressed and I felt like I had never lost her.

I finally arrived in the Rockaways, however, late I was. And it's never ever a disappointment however late or early I show up. Sure there are unpleasant days out there but I always meet someone new or learn something that had alluded me for years. I always feel enlightened on my 2 hour trip back to Jersey contemplating a day out in the Rockaways while I sit on the subway eating a bag of Cheetos under a florescent lights.

Oh, Nicole's Cha Cha shoes. Yes, you can find her out there in the neighborhood where she lives in a bungalow with her husband. They are newly weds. Close to 9pm, she was putting herself together for a night out working as a female impersonator in a club somewhere in Manhattan. We walked out the door together. She pulled up her hot pink spandex top and exposed a little cleavage.

"Be careful on the subway platform, " I said as we parted.

"Don't worry, honey. Don't let anyone fuck with me because I will fuck you up."

"Nicole's Cha Cha Heels",  Rockaways, NYC, 9/11. Juliana Beasley

The party was winding down when I arrived. I took some portraits. The sun went down and the partygoers began to disperse. I walked a couple blocks over to my new favorite pub in the neighborhood and befriended the bartender, Sharon. I finally met my Rockaway's kindred spirit. Years of traveling out to the peninsula and finally, I met someone who really got me. And I got her. We knew all the same people. She is boisterous, tough, and a great storyteller. She can "man" her bar and kindly discipline the most difficult of irate drunk customers into submission. I look forward to our next meeting.

You gotta' "ring them bells".

Thursday, September 1, 2011

End of Season #2

 "Tristan #1", Rockaways, Queens, NYC, Summer 2012. Juliana Beasley

"Little Girl with Doll in Stroller", Rockaways, Queens, NYC. Summer, 2011. Juliana Beasley

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

End of the Season

"Skateboarders Under Elevated Subway Track", Rockaways, Queens, NYC, 8/11. Juliana Beasley

I photographed these two young skateboarders under the elevated tracks in the Rockaways one late afternoon. They weren't from the neighborhood and lived--I believe-- out in the Far Rockaways.

I owe them a photo. So, Chris and friend... just to let you know, I will be back out there in about a week and I will leave a photograph with your friend, Jose. Thanks for taking the time to pose for me. And I hope you did get flooded out and you are safe.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Joanna' Summer Luau Party!

"Baby John Running", Rockaway Park, NYC, June 2011. Juliana Beasley

I had a 10 hour photo blast shooting two Saturday's ago at Joanna's 8th birthday party at her Uncle Mike's house in the Rockaways.  My work in progress, a very new work in progress that began in the last week of May revolves around the Water sisters, their children and their children's children and their friends. The work will be a part of a group show entitled "Family Values" in a couple of weeks at Michael Mazzeo Gallery in Chelsea which opens on July 7th.

"Jean", Rockaways, NYC, June 2011. Juliana Beasley

I am excited to show off this work so early in the process.

"Joanne and her Grandson", Rockaways, NYC, June 2011. Juliana Beasley

Meanwhile, my book dummy of "Last Stop: Rockaway Park" is close to being bound together... By whom? By me!!!


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Photo for Saturday in April 2011

"Two Yemenite Brothers", Rockaways, NYC, April 2011.

I love meeting new people out in the Rockaways. Sometimes, it feels like a second home or a vacation getaway if I'm in the right mood. On a day's visit, I typically run into at least four or five people who have let me photograph them over the years. Last Sunday afternoon, I was introduced to the two brothers in the above photograph. They live across the street from Lulu, the woman who runs the boarding house behind the chain link fence. On a warm day, she spends enough time sitting outside in a sun chair with her husband and the friendly visitor drinking and idling on the cement steps to her front door. I suspect she knows most of what is going on or going down in the neighborhood.

"Come here, "she motions at two boys as they were walking up the street towards the boardwalk.

"They are brothers", she informs me. "Their country is at war. Yemen, right? Isn't that right?" she questions them. 

They nod.

"Take their photograph."

I do.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Brittany in 2006. Brittany in 2011.

I first met Brittany in 2006. Kerri, Joanne's daughter had introduced her to one summer day in August. She was walking down the Boulevard, carrying a grocery bag in her hand. She was young and pregnant.
Few words were exchanged, I took a photograph of her, she smiled and I got her mobile number.

I could never track her down and sometimes when I ran into some of her friends, I would ask for her. I could sense she was avoiding me. After, leaving several messages on her voicemail, I tried to get through one more time to find that the phone had been disconnected. This never shocked me.

 "Brittany Pregnant", Rockaways, Queens, NYC, 2006. Juliana Beasley

"Brittany with Her Child on the Boulevard", Rockaways, Queens, NYC, 2011. Juliana Beasley

I'm putting this photo up just now because in my last post, I put a photograph of her this St. Paddy's Day.
That chilly day, she was standing again out on the Boulevard, this time with a stroller. The interaction was quick. We were in a crowd of people on the sidewalk waiting for the parade to pass. I took her photograph and in the commotion, I believe she told me this was her second child. I took her number again and wondered if maybe this time, she would return my calls.

I decided to repost the image of Brittany from a couple of weeks ago to show the contrast of her five years ago and her now.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I Photographed On St. Paddy's Day in the Rockaways, #1

"Portrait of Ma", Rockaway, Queens, NYC, 3/11. Juliana Beasley.

On April 7, I told my friends that I was going to photograph the St. Paddy's Day Parade out in the Rockaways, my old stomping ground.

 "No, " they told me. "St. Paddy's is on the 17th." But, I knew differently. The real St. Paddy's Day is celebrated in all it's green glory out in the Rockaways.

I hadn't been out to the Rockaways since 2009.

In all the years that I have been commuting back and forth to the Rockaways, I never had a chance ( I was out of town, I forgot the date, I was unmotivated) to photograph the parade in a town once called "Irishtown" because so many Irish immigrants had settled in the community. I knew some of the old timers, the real Irishman and women who were born and raised in Ireland and still maintained a healthy brogue. I also knew some of the second generation Irish Americans, as well as, some of their kids.

Last minute, I wanted to find an intern/assistant. In desperation, only, a few days before the event, I was considering posting the day's internship to attract a possible candidate. I wanted to bring two different cameras and needed help carrying one bag to lighten my load while shooting. I put the word out to fellow photo friends. My friend David returned my text and thought he might have the perfect match for me. He told me she was a student in the photography program at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

"Go friend her on Facebook, " he said.

And I did. I needed an intern right away. I didn't have the time to be so selective. I found her on Facebook.

I looked through her photo albums on her page. There were all the usual photographs of her goofing with friends at parties. The drinks, the laughs, the mocking and perhaps, a couple of people throwing the ubiquitous popular gang signs. She was pretty. She had lot's of friends. But, honestly, none of this really mattered. In the deceptive world of Facebook, everyone wants to portray themselves as a winner and not a loser. I wasn't necessarily looking for a winner, I was looking for someone enthusiastic, helpful, and eager to learn something on a weekend afternoon.

And then I found a great self-portrait of her with her cat. The way she held the cat and looked into the camera, I felt whether true or only a projected fantasy on my part, that this girl was kind. In another self-portrait, she held a medium format camera. Ah, I could see she was in her early twenties and yet, had opted to shoot film instead of digital.

She accepted my friendship request. She was interested and free on Saturday.

Her name was Amy. It was Wednesday. There was no time to meet for a casual interview.

Between, text messages, e-mails and then a brief phone conversation, I explained the basic things I expected of her. I told her what I needed and the rest I could explain on the subway out to the Rockaways.

We set a date for 9am on the platform at Chambers St. in lower Manhattan. I told her I was petite--not short--and had short dark hair. She was also, not so tall and had long brown hair.

The next item on my shoot list was to find a way to blend in, a way to mix with the native parade onlookers.

Find green cheap and green clothes.

"Green Girl at St. Paddy's Parade", Rockaways, Queens, NYC, 3/11. Juliana Beasley

I went to the local Rainbow store where I knew I would find some cheap green shirts. I walked out the store and went to the nearby Duane Reade's, looked through the selections of green nail polish and green eyeliner. Picked up one of each for both Amy and me.

I dialed her number and left a message, "Amy, if you can, wear green nail polish." I couldn't possibly expect her to paint her fingernails on the subway.

And then to an outside market, where I bought a green knit hat that looked very funky and fashionable at that moment, so, I bought it.  Later, it looked like a frumpy hat that an eccentric older woman might sport. Nevertheless, the thought of dressing up and taking pictures in one day felt like good fun to me.

As I walked down the quiet and almost empty platform at 9 am that Saturday, I noticed a young woman sitting on a bench. "Amy?", I yelled.

Yes, it was her, she walked towards me and smiled. We got on the next train.

The subway cars were pretty quiet for a Saturday morning. I took the time to show her my equipment, explain her responsibilities. Once above ground, I pulled out my mobile and started to call the numbers of people that I knew out there. I called Charlie, Trailer Bob, Michelle, Margie and Bobby. No one picked up. I left messages. Bobby and I had already made a tentative date to meet at Roger's Pub. He told me to come early, get a seat before the parade ended the bars became crammed.

The closer we got to our destination, I noticed the St. Paddy's vendors pushing shopping carts onto the train filled with green stuffed animals. We got off the end of the line. 116th St.

More text and images soon. Very soon.

I did these scans quickly, so, they are not of the best quality. They are, in a sense, work prints for my project and edited from contact scans very quickly.

Monday, February 28, 2011

More Photographs and Words from Church on The Rock

"Flip Hairstyle", Rockaway Park, NYC, 2006. Juliana Beasley

After I photographed each member of the congregation who passed through are make-shift studio leading to the exit of the church, a young woman with bleach blonde hair approached me me.  I asked her too as I had done with the others, "What is your New Year's resolution?"

Her mother and sisters waited outside. The door was held ajar and I could feel the cold air biting against my cheeks.

"I don't feel very good," she said.

"I took an overdose of my epilepsy medication yesterday. I feel really horrible. I tried to kill myself yesterday, " she said.

"I'm so sorry to hear that. Are you feeling alright?" I asked. "It's good that you came to church today."

The day before she had locked herself in the bathroom until her parents managed to get through the door. They had taken her to the emergency room. It's seemed incredible and almost impossible that she could be standing in front of me after such a trauma to her body and psyche. I couldn't make sense of the story, only that she wanted to die and that she hated herself.

"Laker's Fan", Rockaway Park, NYC, 2006. Juliana Beasley

Her honesty and our position in front of the door as others tried to move around us and exit felt equally awkward.  I didn't know what to say. I knew I didn't have enough time to help her or give her some hope.

"I feel better today though, "she said. "I can't believe I did that. It was so stupid."

"You are going to be alright? " I said. "It's good that you came today. Did you pray for help and guidance?"

"Yes, " she said.

"Met's Fan", Rockaway Park, NYC, 2006. Juliana Beasley

"Girl with Scarf", Rockaway Park, NYC, 2006. Juliana Beasley

"Woman in Red Coat", Rockaway Park, NYC, 2006. Juliana Beasley

Prayer and religion are not a part of my vocabulary, but I knew that I had to connect with her within her belief system and not mine.

I wrote down her name and her phone number. I told her I would call her. She said good-bye. I could do nothing else but give her a strong hug and tell her it would be alright. Or at least, I hoped it would be alright.

"Are you almost ready? " a man standing anxiously with a set of keys looked on as we packed my photo gear into bags.

My assistant and I quickly packed up the remainder of my things. We picked up my belonging,and
walked through the door that was quickly locked behind us.

"Charlie", Rockaway Park, NYC, 2006. Juliana Beasley