pictoryblog: I can never fully articulate my love affair with…


I can never fully articulate my love affair with Coney Island. I started shooting the portraits that would become “The Beach” during the long and sweaty August after I’d left the boyfriend who spent all my money. I was saved by friends with space on their futon, friends who were on a tight budget themselves, and I quickly learned that quitting cigarettes and quitting food at the same time is incredibly painful. Coney Island saved my spirit. I wandered up and down the beach every weekend sheepishly asking strangers if I could take their picture, and I soon found myself fully immersed in the worlds of new friends, immersed in their sorrows and joys instead of my own. New York isn’t the best place to have your life fall apart. Everything’s expensive, and we need to be so guarded and private and competitive to survive. But on Coney Island, I experienced a sort of generosity I had never before seen in this city. I was invited onto towels and blankets and offered endless amounts of food and beer. And stories. Wonderful sad, touching, harrowing, funny, happy, beautiful stories. Four years have passed since then. I still wander up and down the beach each summer. Every year I’m terrified it will all be over soon, that Coney Island’s fading amusement parks will give way to hotels and Disneyfication. Everything I love about Coney Island is threatened by development and ignored in debates about blight and eminent domain. But this is no graveyard for lost dreams- the beach is vibrant and alive. A colorful wonderland on a hazy summer afternoon, Coney Island is as much an escapist’s dreamworld as it is gritty and urban and real. And now I shoot and shoot and shoot so some little part of its magic can never fade away.

— By Marisha Camp (from “Open Theme”)

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