The above images were taken two weeks ago in my old stomping grounds of Astoria.
The first ten images were taken in Astoria Queens, on Vernon Boulevard ranging between 43rd Avenue to 45th Road, initially, my old stomping ground. This stretch of Boulevard is extremely long, starting at Vernon Boulevard and 30th Avenue and ending at Border Avenue.
As a child I spent countless hours on Vernon Boulevard walking, riding my bicycle and eventually driving the back road to avoid the hellish traffic on 21st Street. On the day these images were taken I was astonished by the visual display of the sky, it reminded me immediately of my childhood, standing in the diamond of the ball field and getting lost at the beauty of the sky. The cloud coverage reminded me of so many wonderful moments of my childhood, moments that I spent with my father, learning everything I could from him. When I was growing up in Queens Bridge Projects in the 1980’s, life was hard, danger was real; the mere act of walking out of your apartment was no guarantee of safety; but my childhood was filled with colorful characters and events, events that I observed and learned a great deal from, this is something I would never trade.
My favorite part of Vernon Boulevard as a child and still my favorite part as an adult is the building covered by foliage. I remember seeing this building as a child and wondering how so many leaves could grow against a building, I was fascinated at the fact that the roots of the plant did not destroy the building and somehow magically held unto the building. After a rainstorm I would beg my father to take me to the building, I wanted to see the sun shine against the leaves and the see the lively colors of green explode from these plants. Whenever it rained, this was a constant routine between my father and I for many years. When I have the opportunity I still visit this area after a rainy day, just to admire the effects of the rain but more so to relive the memories of my childhood. I can still see my father and I walking and talking and just standing and admiring this natures art.
The black and white photos show images of Vernon Boulevard and 44th Avenue. When I was a child this area was mostly factories and mechanic shops. In the last fifteen years the area has changed greatly, where once you would rarely see a white person you have many young white professionals walking, jogging, touring and living in the area. Part of me is happy for the change, its bringing a new sense of life and rebooting the entire neighborhood, a new night life is present, on the weekends the area is pack with families and tourist visiting the neighborhood. When I was growing up in that area when you saw a tourist you knew the person was lost! The other half of me is disappointed that my childhood, my history of sorts is slowly disappearing and being eroded by a new generation of individuals who will have little knowledge of the vast histories, tragedies, joyous moments and the likes that occurred over the years. As a history buff, I understand and appreciate the positive change but being human it just reminds me of my mortality and the finite time we have on this planet. The lives that we affect are nothing more than flashes in the grand scale of time, cause one to really question if one’s life has been fulfilled to its potential.
The remaining images were taken at Roosevelt Island. I tend to enjoy taking photos of people doing the everyday normal thing, seeing couples learn about each other and just capturing the human experience. The picture of the stump and spider web were also taken on the island, unfortunately I did not have my macro lens with me that day, needless to say I was irritated by that fact, missing wonderful up close shots.
Most people ask me why I take photos of everyday moments, the mundane as one person stated to me. I find that the images I take regarding the mundane allows those who view my images to understand life a little bit better. I enjoy seeing people smile when they look at my photos, I enjoy hearing them speak about an image in detail and discuss all the little things that they see in the photo. I truly enjoy it when I hear someone say, “Oh my God, I thought I was the only that did that,” or “remember when so and so did this.” Those are the moments I enjoy, the connection it brings to my viewers, the memories it triggers for them, many times the memories are ones of joy and happiness but whatever type of memory is recalled, I enjoy hearing about it.