Friday, December 12, 2008

Ghana On Tap, and exhibition by Nancy Borowick

Aside from helping me on Face of Brooklyn enter metadata, email participants their portraits, retouch images, and add fun and enthusiasm to the studio, Nancy Borowick has been mounting and exhibition of her photographs of Ghana to raise money to build a well in the village where she lived last fall.

The reception is tomorrow, Dec 13th from 3 to 7 PM
The exhibition is at Katonah Art and Frame Shop
188 Katonah Avenue
Katonah, new YOrk

You can see more of Nancy's photographs, which burst with a touching sensitivity and joy, at her website 
Click here to donate to her charity, Ghana on Tap

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I am happy to report that each person who participated in Face of Brooklyn information supplied on the survey form has been carefully typed in, matched to their photo, and now sent to Julie May the Photography Librarian at the Brooklyn Historical Society. Nancy and Helena, who have been both working as assistants,interns, and Excel mavens were instrumental in the un-ending work of carefully decoding curious handwriting,email addresses, searching for missing zipcodes, and catching my mistakes.

Julie May will translate the fields we created in excel for things like "Occupation", "How long you have lived in Brooklyn", "Age" so that each portrait file will be encoded with this information, photographers, archivist, and librarian's call this metadata.

Julie will also have to make some modifications to certain terms that people used on their forms, particularly in the free-form comment box. The Library of Congress has created a keyword thesaurus for metadata, to ensure consistency for researchers, and "Vocabulary control, identification of preferred terms, standardized spelling." You can read a bit about it here.

She will also add some more fields to include author(myself), year, location, and notes about the specifics of the Face of Brooklyn.

During the meeting I had with Julie May and Kate Fermoile last week, we discussed how the portraits collect during Face of Brooklyn would be treated and integrated into the larger collection at BHS. Thinking about the 280 (ish) portraits I took for this project filtering into the BHS collection was very exciting. The portraits will both exist as a distinct collection, "Nora Hertings' Face of Brooklyn" and seamlessly join the rest of BHS's collection. This way someone who comes to BHS to research "Coney Island", will also come across all of the portraits I made August 31st, 2008 at Coney Island. If someone is doing research about students and submits "students" into the database, the portraits of those who listed their occupation on my form as "student" will also be returned appear among the search hits.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Brooklynites: A Review in Miniature

Brooklyn is famous for lots of things, among my favorites is ADORABLE BABIES (or, "big kids" for those little ones who protest: "I'M NOT A BABY!"). As Nora's trusty apprentice, I had the glamorous job of sifting through, labeling and e-mailing thousands of photos. As I chipped away at my mountainous task I could not help but notice that every single baby I reviewed was probably the cutest baby I had ever seen. Don't believe me? Check out these Brooklyn bunnies. I will be posting new photos every couple of days, so be on the look-out! Mostly they will feature babies, but some are just kids who were way too cute to pass up. Just what is it that makes them so adorable? You tell me!

"a photo? yes, but quickly, please. i've much to do."

photoshopping around this baby's hair was quite the learning experience.
P.S.-how jealous are you of those chanel baby bunny slippers?

those hip sunglasses actually belong to the baby and were exchanged for the free ride.

"this is my new look."

November 26th, 2008



when's the last time you got to act this silly?
don't answer that.

"mom, you aren't focusing. check out that cute three year old in the pink floyd t-shirt."

Soccer at McCarren Park

This morning the official temperature in Central Park was "freezing", but looking at the final portraits from the shoot at McCarren Park on September 6ths reminds me of the sweltering humidity of an impending storm from hurricane Ike.

Brooklynites who were unphased by the weather included a number of young soccer players who had games on the field near Driggs and Lorimer.
Along with many players, was pleased to photograph Dewey and Katherine Thompson, who started the youth soccer league who were playing at the park.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Coney Island Highlights

I am happy to report that all 57 of Coney Island residents and patrons who had their portraits made have been uploaded to the Face of Brooklyn Flickr page account. To view individual pictures click here.

Monday, November 10, 2008


I desperately wanted to take Louie's portrait as soon as I spotted him getting out of his black SUV, but I made the assumption that he wouldn't be approachable. In fact, Louie, whose car keys were attached to a "World's Greatest Dad" keychain was happy to stop and pose for me on his way to a baby shower in Prospect Park.

One for me and one for you

As an artist and photographer I am always fascinated by the impact the presence of a camera has on people. I opted not to pose or direct people for the hundreds of portraits I took for this project. Usually this was unnecessary, as we are conditioned at a very early age to behave in front of the camera a very specific way.

In early projects involving portraiture that called for me to direct my subjects much more I had a tactic for working with young subjects. I would promise them that if they let me take the picture I wanted to make I would also take a picture that they wanted to make. Usually this was called the "crazy" picture.

This group of kids, who are a some combination of siblings and cousin's and neighbors, took my description of a "serious picture" and a "crazy" picture to heart.

Crazy Picture

Crown Heights November 2, 2008

The portraits from the final Face of Brooklyn shoot at Crown Heights on November 2 are now posted to Flickr, as well as in this slideshow below.

Monday, November 3, 2008

November 4th Message

Today is the day so many people of all political persuasions, age, race and gender have been looking towards.

Back in August, these young men were registering voters at the West Indie Day parade in Crown Heights when they posed for their portraits.

I would like to thank them and everyone else who have volunteered their time to promote democracy.

Get out the Vote

The Final Shoot

We set up shop on the side of Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, coincidentally right in front of the home and synagogue of “his majesty, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the real King” Rebbe Menachem M. Schneerson. After shooting at eight different locations around Brooklyn, this was Nora’s final shoot and last opportunity to really capture the diverse culture that defines this densely populated borough. The Jewish community in Brooklyn is a hard one to engage with as an outsider but when one thinks of the true “face of Brooklyn,” there’s no denying the Jewish presence, specifically that of the Jewish man. The day started out slow, with much curiosity but little participation from passerby’s. Eventually we drew the attention of a group of young boys, most of whom were living in the area, studying the Talmud and worshiping at Rebbe M. M. Schneerson’s synagogue. After much persuasion and convincing, some agreed to have their portrait snapped and little by little others followed suit. Unfortunately we could not enlist many women to participate, though in a way, many religious Jewish women in the area are rarely seen in the public sphere anyway, a face of Brooklyn hardly seen. By the end of a long and cold November day, we walked away with about twelve strong portraits, a great success in our minds as we started the day with expectations on the low side.

Here is Nora, snapping away at our biggest fan and most enthusiastic model, Shuki.

After shooting this group of teenage boys, they insisted that we be in a photograph with them so that they could later brag to their friends back home in Israel about the fantastic American women they met.

(left) As we were closing up shop, this group of youngsters came cruising by on their bicycles and enticed by the chance to have their picture taken (and obtain some left over Halloween candy) they turned their bikes around, jumped in front of the camera and struck a wonderfully silly pose for Nora (our favorite facial expression is the girl's in the pink). (right) Here I am, hard at work, making sure to get all of their information down before they devoured the candy and sped away.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Last Shoot

The beautiful Indian summer weather has prompted an encore shoot for the Face of Brooklyn Project. Tomorrow Nancy and I will be in Crown Heights on Eastern Parkway between Kingston and Rochester Avenue between 12 and 3.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nancy Borowick

I am very fortunate that Nancy Brorowick has been generously donating her time to assist with all the work for the Face of Brooklyn project. She has been helping to enter all the data that accompanies each participant portraits, as well as working on retouching some of the images.

Although she graduated from Union College only two years ago, Nancy has been involved in some very interesting projects community based photography projects. Last year she taught photography to children in Mowire, Ghana. Upon returning New York after living with a family in Mowire, Nancy launched The Ghana On Tap Project; Nancy sold the pictures she took in Mowire at an exhibition to raise money to dig a well near the school in Mowire.  This summer she will be working with NYU students to teach photography in Africa.

Nancy's unique experience and enthusiasm for documentary photography and photojournalism is a wonderful addition to the evolving work around Face of Brooklyn.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


These kids stopped by after playing in the fountain at Prospect Park. Their grandfather has been involved with Celebrate Brooklyn as a dancer and drummer for over 25 years.


Only place I can live, breathe and feel free to create. Brooklyn is to me what Greenwich Village was to Bob Dylan. Not that I am comparing myself to Bob Dylan...

Dominican Pride


Airline Attendant and Carnival performer at West Indian Carnival

Monday, October 13, 2008

Why do we need this?

The mother was shy and spoke limited english, and I had to make case that the family stop and get their portrait made to her 6 year old son. After listening to my simplified story about history and the Brooklyn Historical Society, the boy asked me flatly "Why do we need this?"
Seven locations, and 300 plus people, this was the most difficult question of all.

She is Amazing

Upon re-situating her sleepy, but adorable little girl back in her stroller, her mother turned to us and said "She is amazing, the best thing that ever happened to me. You should have children, when you are ready, they are the best thing in the world."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tai Chi Practitioner in Midwood

Last Sunday I was joined by Kelly Saxton and Mindy McDaniel, a friend who came down from Troy, New York to help with the photo shoots in Fort Greene and Midwood. We set up the photostudio and table on the parkway on Ocean Parkway and Avenue J. This man was practicing what appeared to be Tai Chai right in the middle of the sidewalk. When he stopped about an hour later, I urged him for his picture. He performed some moves in front of my camera. He was very kind, but our conversation didn't go far as he didn't speak much English. Shortly after, I had a conversation with another man who told me he had seen him doing Tai Chi everyday of the year for over 10 years, in all that time they had never spoke.

Little helper

I won't be able to send this man a copy of this picture as his son filled out the email section of the questionnaire with some very expressive scribbling. In reaction to boy's interpretation of his email address, the man said "We will just have to come to the exhibition." I hope he does.


I was happy to call it a day last Saturday when the women on the right finally agreed to pose in the picture with her girlfriend. She was the first person to stop at our booth when we set up at Fort Greene park. She passed on getting her picture taken, explaining that she had just played tennis and wasn't made up but promised to bring her girlfriend back " who looks great in pictures." The couple told me that the live just down the block from the tennis courts and have been coming to play for over ten years.

Fort Greene Tennis courts

Last week, we set up the portrait studio next to the Fort Greene park tennis courts. We met some serious practitioners of the sport. Right before I was about to make this man's portrait, he exclaimed " I am taking a picture with my favorite thing."

Monday, September 22, 2008


Redhook Faces

Click here to view larger images

San Jeronima

Water Balloon

Sunday Portrait Location

Meet us in Midwood on the Ocean Parkway Boulevard

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday Portrait Location

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Meet us in Fort Greene Park

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Prospect Park Faces

Click here to access larger images on Flickr

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Colors of Your Country

Jamaica appeared to be the most represented flag during the West Indian Carnival on Labor day

Caribbean Flags

I am hoping a reader will post and identify this flag for me. It did not appear on websites on Caribbean flags.

Jon Check

"One day soon, I am sure, I am going to get a notice on my door that I am being evicted from my loft because the guy who owns the building will have sold it to a developer to turn into luxury condos. I am consider myself very lucky to have experienced Williamsburg before it turns into something else. "

Regardless if it is Coney Island, or Williamsburg, gentrification is an issue that many people in the Borough face.

Shirley and Bernie Rosenberg

"I remember when the trolley cars ran on Coney Island Ave. We went to Steeple Chase in the summer time. "

Some thoughts on the new and old Brooklyn

Gilbert Henderson

"Lookng for the new and old Coney Island to once again be the heart of Brooklyn. "

Daniel T Quinn Intern Extraordinaire

From the very inception of this project, I have been fortunate to have support of many talented and helpful people who have found time amongst their own busy schedules and projects to help out or share ideas and supplies. It is necessary to have several hands during the photo shoots to help not only with lighting, but to inform people about the project, answer questions, keep track of the questionnaires. I am very fortunate to have found Dan Quinn, a fellow artist and curator, who just moved to New York from Atlanta. Besides helping out along with Ryan Roth and Kelly Rio Saxton at last weekend's shoots at McCarren Park and Redhook Park, he is also helping with processing and archiving the more than 700 photographs I have taken so far! You can see Dan's mobile exhibition space at

Processing and data entry

We ask for your patience for those of you who have visited this site from previous shoots and have yet to see your photo. This week Dan and I began the very tedious task of keying in all the information on the questionaires that accompany each participant. It is difficult to arrive at an accurate number as some photographs contain families, but there are over 200 completed questionaires. Each participants photograph is matched up with their information and that information is entered into Lightroom, an image adjusting and managing software. After that, I will begin making any exposure or cropping adjustments to the images. Once that is done then the process of uploading the photos to Flickr, posting them to the blog, and mailing or emailing them out can be completed.

There won't be any location shoots this weekend as I am flying to Chicago for my sister's wedding ( Congratulations Amanda and Abe!). Look for us the following weekend at Forte Green Park and Ocean Parkway in Midwood.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


"I think Brooklyn is the best place we can live"

Three Friends

Photo Libre!

At the Redhook ball fields we set up between a soccer field and a baseball diamond. Most people were very involved in watching or playing the games, but Kelly, Dan and I did meet a number of curious children. Some took a break from zipping around on scooters to visit and pose for the camera.

I was fortunate to have Kelly along for the shoot in a location that is popular with Hispanic immigrants. She took careful crib notes for translating the relevant information into Spanish. However, toward the end of the day she realized that the much uttered phrase "Photo Libre" translates to "Freedom Photo." Viva La Photography!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Saturday stroll in the park

Most people in the park at 11 am were using the track or racketball courts. We were so pleased that this couple posed in their party attire.