I started photographing in East New York, Brooklyn early in 2015. Mayor Bill de Blasio's rezoning program began in this neighborhood and it was close by. I wanted to get to know areas of Brooklyn that were nearer to what my childhood memories of visiting New York were like. East New York is a short walk away from where I live now, so I took my cameras and began meeting people, getting to know them a little bit, and photographing them.
The more I photographed and the more I spoke with other people about what I was doing it became clear that I couldn't easily move past the pattern of white - usually male - photographers working in minority communities. Simply photographing would never be enough, there had to be more emphasis on giving communities like East New York space to present themselves to the public, on their terms. I stopped photographing there in late 2016 and I see this project as a reminder to forge a new way of using cameras to learn about new places. This is why I've included some text from a Brooklyn-born artist, Mone, who I asked to respond to this project. Her words give a clearer understanding of what a place like East New York means to people who were raised here than my images ever could.
My city, Brooklyn
I call East New York the final frontier
The last of the hood to be gentrified
Cuz they not going out like
Bushwick and Bed Stuy
This where the culture thrives
Nuttys in the summer
Men and women play the numbers
And the blocks alive
The people the culture
Its the last place in Brooklyn
That still looks like Brooklyn
Reminds me of something
That was taken
A style we embraced an incredible place
And to capture the spirit in
Pictures or scripture is how we refrain
From forgetting the last place in Brooklyn we claim
No industrial district or moniker claimed can change East New York or its Name!