Photo: Roy Beeson
Makeup: Nina Soriano
Hair: DeAndre Peoples
Stylist: Derek Nguyen
Models: Lulu and Sophia at Wilhelmina
Photography Assistance / Production: Teddy Nelson
Photographed on location on Grand St., Hope St., Rodney St., Keap St., Borinquen Pl. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
I have lived in my neighborhood since 2004 and lived across the street briefly in 1997 on the southside of Williamsburg. It is the longest I have lived anywhere, yet the entire time I have been here I have always known that one day we will leave. I remember looking at the light filtered through the mimosa tree that branched over our backyard on a bedroom wall that I constructed (and have since removed) and feeling that I would someday remember that with nostalgia. The mimosa tree died a few years ago and I really don’t remember when that conscious considered memory took place or even if it took place.
I have known my neighbors for a while but have never really engaged with them at length until recently when I would take my newborn son out for a walk and a lot of the grandparents began to readily speak to me.
Many of new friends have lived their entire lives here and as they find themselves in their 60s and 70s reminisce about their childhoods about going to see The Three Stooges at the 6-story movie theater that was torn down in the ‘60s and became a gas station with one pump that lasted till the early aughts then was torn a few years ago and is now a 6 story luxury condo building with a kickboxing studio and a chain Mexican restaurant. While there are some records of the neighborhood and what used to be here, much has been lost to time and is not contained in easily accessible records outside of oral history.
When I first lived in NY I worked on documentary films about the history of New York. I spent hours learning that the history of this city is that it is constantly growing, tearing itself down and reinventing itself.
With the rise of luxury condos replacing the low slung factories and industrial buildings for carpenters, plumbers and mechanics, the MSG factory taken over by Indian Larry and now an empty lot. Residing in the nether between the old and the new are the in-between spaces – the empty lots, the carved out pits of dirt – one of the few times we see large mounds of earth in the city is on a construction site. The plywood fences painted green, then slowly enveloped in graffiti, the chain fences, and the weeds growing haphazardly.
I wonder how many people notice or in what ways they are affected by the worksites and new structures that pop up.
Everywhere is unseen in the in-between.
What if this can be a backdrop to a shoot with Lulu, a model I had photographed for Ravelin a few months before. To show beauty outside of the standard canon of what is considered beautiful and the clothing lines are all very intriguing
I feel like Lulu would appreciate these environments and notice the unnoticed beauty of them.
Lulu is gentle and quiet, maybe a little shy and there is softness to her and a desire to pursue interests and to be actively engaged with art and the world around her. She is curious of the world around her and still a teenager. I like that she has not been adulterated yet by the industry and she seems entirely positive and doesn’t have a hierarchical view of people.
We photograph Lulu in front of the old Quaker Oats factory with a Mimosa tree growing out of the side of the building. The sun is high and harsh at 4PM. Teddy holds a 6×6 scrim jim with a ¼ stop silk to soften the light, and it creates weird telltale shadows on the ground, which I tell myself that I will retouch out. But later I decide that I like them while looking at the photos and that none of the photos should be retouched or altered at all except to alter the color to match some of the tungsten film that I shot that has a heavy cyan cast to it. We next photograph Lulu in front of the building across the street from me; the building was gutted when I first lived in NYC and a shell. The building contains nice luxurious but not new apartments I have never been in the building but had been once been in a large gallery space in 2004 where the owner keeps a collection of street photography. The owner keeps the gallery closed always and occasionally sits outside smoking cigars with a massive bulldog.
We walk down the street and take a seat on the green chair outside the electrician’s shop. Lulu’ sits in-between two plants, a dumpster with a blue tarp over it and cars sit in the background.
This chair is where the electrician sits every day after finishing work with his wife looking at his shop in his garage.
We walk to a triangular green space that sits between Rodney St. and exit from the BQE. No one ever comes here except for the seasonal freight hoppers. The land is overgrown with newly planted trees, grass and weeds. Across from us is another strip of land on a slant that is used between Rodney St and the BQE as an informal dog park. Green spaces that dot the BQE and make the commuters drive perhaps a little less harsh.
Lulu changes once more and puts on a red dress and poses in front of the green plywood where the Damon House has been torn down and the foundation is now being torn apart. It is dark now and Lulu and I happen to come across a fence on a small lot that holds shopping carts inside. On the fence there are faded posters of a Reggaeton concert, White background, a professionally shot performer stylized curly text.