TIAA #3: “Brooklyn Rising”

Tosin’s Images & Anecdotes (TIAA) is my self-assigned photography challenge of 2022. The immediate objective is to select one image from my inventory (a cityscape, landscape, portrait, oddity, etc.) each week and write something about it. This “something” could be the story behind the photo, a triggered memory in relation to the photo, or simply a reaction or reflection based on the subject matter featured. The long-term objective is to encourage myself to add more content to “La Vue Atypique”, which celebrates its first decade in publication this year.

Brooklyn, New York (December 2018)
“Brooklyn Rising” / Brooklyn, New York, USA / December 22, 2018 | Purchase

What can I say about the photograph above?

Similar to the photo shared in TIAA #2, this cityscape of downtown Brooklyn was another image from my collection that was well-received on my Flickr photostream.

A lot of us are very familiar with the skylines of New York City, in which we tend to think of the massive urban conglomerates of Lower Manhattan (Downtown) and Midtown Manhattan.

Believe it or not, though Manhattan is the most renowned borough of America’s largest city, Brooklyn has the largest population out of the five boroughs. That means the majority of New Yorkers live in BROOKLYN! As a result, I would like to share this significant slice of the Big Apple with you. (See what I did there?)

Due to several revisions in Brooklyn’s zoning regulations for construction in the past two decades, skyscrapers have risen exponentially in downtown Brooklyn, giving the neighborhood its own unique skyline across the East River from Lower Manhattan (the same applies to Long Island City in Queens). Ever since, Brooklyn continues to rise — literally!

Alas, let’s not “Fuggedaboutit” and give some respect to BKNY!

For most people, the paragraphs I wrote above are probably unimportant and immaterial. Nevertheless, it’s important for me that the viewer has a reason to care about the subject matter featured other than just the aesthetics of the image itself because as soon as he or she moves on, the image is essentially “out of sight, out of mind.” I dislike that photography has become so ephemeral but I suppose it cannot be helped because human beings are incessantly bombarded by information and images whenever we’re awake and conscious. Given these circumstances, I like to supply some details that the viewer can briefly peruse before it all quickly exits his or her consciousness. In other words, I enjoy providing some educational information or facts or trivia so the viewer can see (and learn) something deeper or more profound about the featured subject matter. I like to inform of why the subject matter…matters.

This is part of the reason why it’s paramount that I supply as many atypical views and perspectives of the cities and towns that I visit and photograph. Fortunately, I think there is a small audience who understands this aspect of my work. I am extremely grateful to this tiny niche.

The cityscape featured for TIAA #3 was captured three days before Christmas in 2018. I was in New York because my sister was scheduled to have surgery and a family member was required to be present at the hospital. I was more than happy to go because I think my sister is one of the most special and unique human beings in the world. I’ve thought that since the day she came into the world. She also has a remarkably keen eye for the subject matter that I like to capture.

On the evening before she was discharged, I think I had brought some requested items from her apartment to her room in the hospital. I forget which television show she was watching, but I do remember that I had brought my camera gear with me, which turned out to be a good decision. After a brief chat, I looked out the window of the room, which offered this unusual but spectacular view of the skyline of Brooklyn, with the rooftops of the hospital and neighboring buildings adorning the foreground. The entire scene was intriguing. Brooklyn had so many high-rises and new skyscrapers in its own skyline that one could not see the well known, popular buildings of Lower Manhattan beyond it. If the thrilling view wasn’t enough, the sunset that yielded the oncoming blue hour was nothing short of stunning.

That familiar sensation that I experienced when I beheld a magnificent vista instantly flowed through my psyche and body. Fully entranced, I almost didn’t hear my sister speaking to me from her bed.

“Oh wow! You know what you have to do now, right?” she said in a quiet voice that suggested that she was also influenced by the moment (which is saying something as my sister had lived in New York for nearly a decade, thus undermining the stereotype that nothing can phase or impact a New Yorker).

“I do,” I replied, smiling subtly at the fact that my sister instinctively knew that this was a scene that had to be captured with my camera.

That’s how “Brooklyn Rising” was created.

I was planning on writing a diplomatic diatribe about so many people missing the point of my photography, and spiraling down the self-destructive route of comparing my work to other photographers. Fortunately, after writing the narrative above, I don’t think it’s necessary anymore.

A candid portrait of yours truly captured by my dad / Houston / September 2021

My parents get it.

My sister gets it.

My closest friend gets it.

My photo contacts and friends who travel from other countries to schedule mutual photo shoots with me in Seattle get it.

The people who matter get it.

Thank you.

Four articles down for the TIAA challenge. 48 remain!

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