“Bushwick is a predominately Puerto Rican / Dominican neighborhood full of life. It boasts a certain cultural flavor which I love. Although it is said to be the 7th most impoverished neighborhood in New York City, the costumes remain elaborate and creative. Parents watch carefully over their children as they walk door to door seeking the next trick or treat. It’s Halloween in Brooklyn, and it only happens once a year.” – Joey L. 1
Joey L. is a Canadian-born photographer living in Brooklyn, NY. He has traveled extensively in third-world countries, meeting the locals and showing their stories through his portraits.
In 2010 when his planned trip to photograph the Maha Shivratri festival in India was unexpectedly postponed, Joey turned his eye and lens to his own adopted neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn.
“I began to think about the strange festivals that I grew up around, such as Halloween. Although I obviously observe that Halloween and Maha Shivratri are completely different, I realized what seems perfectly normal to me would appear bizarre to outsiders. Halloween was happening just outside my doorstep all along. I wanted to photograph this series from the perspective of a foreigner looking in, as if I were making an ethnographic study of all the costumes I found.” 2
The result is his series Halloween in Brooklyn, shot guerilla-style with a small team of assistants. Below you will find a few selections:
Since the initial shoot, Joey L. has hit the pavement every Halloween in order to capture additional portraits of people in the Bushwick community. View the entire gallery at Joey L’s website.
For a first-hand account of the project including the technical details, go to Joey L.’s blog.
If you like this you may want to check out Varanasi, India: “Beyond,” a post detailing Joey L.’s collaboration in India with filmmaker Cale Glendening.