Coney Island Mafia
This image was made on an unseasonably warm day in early April, yet it is the perfect image to kick off August, typically the hottest month of the year.
On my second visit to Coney Island in Brooklyn New York I came across a group of locals mid morning on a Saturday. The Boardwalk was no where near as busy as if a summer day so I inquired if I could make a candid picture of them all seated in front of the Grill House.
The sun drenched tattooed gentleman in the middle instructed those around to get some others to come and sit down. I wanted a more spontaneous photograph and began exposing film while people were still moving and coming towards the group. This negative with the man on the left turned and talking to another, the younger man seated with a startled look and face somewhat blurred along with the woman on the right in the mist of smoking a cigarette just seem to add to the spontaneity of the moment. I was some distance away so I could not hear exactly what was being said but it was clear that most everyone, especially the two bare chested individuals were very much looking forward to having their portrait taken, most likely when they thought I was ready I was in fact done exposing film.
I have since returned to the area various times of the year and been able to see many of the same people sitting or mingling around the same Grill House, many in the exact chair that they were seated in during this photograph. Some appeared in the same clothes such as the “Captain” at different times of the year, I would later learn the Captain conducts tours of the Boardwalk.
Many were quite taken with the “old camera, cloth over the head” that I used and on a return visit I brought along a dozen or so proofs to give to each of the subjects and once again the photographs that I gave away drew a crowd.
This image is quite a departure from the Grand Landscape I gravitate towards, however, there is a body of work waiting in Coney Island…the Coney Island Boardwalk is a Lifestyle unto itself !
Technical info: 5×7 Deardorff Camera 355mm Schneider G Claron lens F 22 @ 1/30 sec. FP 4 film Extreme Minimal Agitation in Pyrocat HD