A Photographer's View of Greenpoint and its Local Residents

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On GrahamPhotography by Lorenz Schmidl

Photographer Lorenz Schmidl's move to Brooklyn's northernmost neighbourhood sparked an enduring interest in capturing its fascinating characters

On moving to a new part of New York City, photographer Lorenz Schmidl took to the streets with his camera as he travelled to work, intent on documenting the neighbourhood. “Greenpoint, in Brooklyn, is an old Polish neighbourhood,” he tells AnOther. “Full of interesting characters poking up on every corner.” On Graham is the result of Schmidl’s subtle and voyeuristic capturing of Greenpoint’s lifeblood, a project which started on Graham Road and soon expanded to cover his entire daily commute to Soho. Altogether the photographs offer a candid glimpse into Brooklyn’s northernmost neighbourhood, with appearances from characters one might guess have lived in Greenpoint for entire lives; one shot of two women mid-laugh beaming towards the camera is juxtaposed with those of others who are perhaps just starting a life in the area, such as a child running through the rain in a hazy and distant black and white shot.  

Schmidl did not set himself a strict criteria when he set about photographing Greenpoint, other than indulging his curiosity, and this is perhaps why On Graham is so engaging and telling of the locality. “For some reason I get fired up by asking someone interesting-looking if I can take their portrait,” Schmidl admits. “The reactions can be so different to what you expect.” What was he aiming for with this body of work? “To collect and hold on to the unusual moment, portrait, situation or streetscape. I find it interesting that everything looks different today than it did yesterday or than it will look tomorrow.”  

And it seems that Schmidl is making his own mark on Greenpoint through On Graham; he describes fondly a moment where he asked a woman if he could take her picture. “She looked at me very suspiciously and loudly asked me in front of all her friends why on earth I would want to take her photo. With my funny accent I just shyly mumbled something like ‘because your hair is absolutely amazing!’. You should’ve seen her smiling proudly. She said I made her day!”