Unlike Williamsburg, Bushwick is one of those neighborhoods in Brooklyn that’s still very much in its transition phase. It’s changing in the sense that developers are breaking down vacant warehouses and constructing lavish condos but much of the aging apartment buildings and homes are still prominent if you were to walk any block.
My wife and a large portion of her life-long friends grew up there and while many view it as becoming new trendy place to live, much of what has always characterized the town hasn’t faded away yet.
There’s still high poverty rate and occasional street activity but it’s the developments, the great restaurants, the easy form of transportation to and from place and the vibrant art scene that has rejuvenated this neighborhood. At the moment, the city may not necessarily entice everyone but it certainly has attracted my curiosity as a photographer.
Unlike Chinatown where I felt that residents didn’t seem bothered that much when photographed, I felt the opposite hunch as I walked Knickerbocker with camera in hand. People were likely to glimpse at my camera first before they looked at me and while some posed willingly, other shied away quickly and after a couple hours, I think I knew why.
The majority of the population is composed of immigrants from Mexico, South American and even Puerto Rico with perhaps a lot of them being in the states illegally. The last thing they would want is for someone to go around photographing them thinking they might do something malicious with the photos.
Of course that wasn’t my intention and I didn’t consider myself as an outsider because I’m Hispanic but apparently perception is everything especially when there’s a camera involved. Fortunately I’m fluent in Spanish where I can carry a full-blown conversation with anyone and I felt that having that ability put people at easy when I explained what my motive was for photographing.
My most-liked interaction I had with a street vendor was when I described to him that I was interested in capturing a sense of the town through it’s people because they are what makes the place what it is. As he smiled, I took the shot.
You can view the rest of the photographs from the assignment.