Retropolis Stefan Bleihauer
Porsche 911 Classic
A photographer’s poetic, playful Lower East Side
Born in a Hester Street flat to Russian immigrant parents, Rebecca Lepkoff came of age during the Depression—and became a keen observer of street life in her Lower East Side neighborhood.
“I really enjoyed all the people and what they were doing. I was into loving the streets,” she told the Daily News in an interview last March. “Everyone was outside: the mothers with their baby carriages, and the men just hanging out. The apartment houses were too small to stay inside.”
A member of the New York Photo League, a photographer’s cooperative, Lepkoff gained a rep for her tender glimpses of mid-century life between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges: a world of El trains and corner stores, of pushcart vendors and laundry lines.
Her portraits of children entertaining themselves on front stairs and sidewalks capture something lost in contemporary New York: a freedom kids used to have to create and explore without being watched by adults.
“The kids played in the street,’” she told the Daily News. “They didn’t stay home. There weren’t many playgrounds. So they made up their own games, and they’d find sticks and whatever.”
Lepkoff still takes pictures, and her work is enjoying more notoriety, thanks to recent exhibits at the Tenement Museum and the Jewish Museum.
Through January 4, some of her work can be seen at the Lower East Side Jewish Conservatory‘s exhibit “On the Cusp of Change: The LES, 1935-1975.”
[Photos copyright Rebecca Lepkoff]
The Creators of NYC: Polaroid Photographer Mikael Kennedy
Josh Wool spent a decade as an executive chef, opening restaurants across the south. But all that changed in 2010, when the carpal tunnel in his hands meant he could no longer work. To keep from going stir crazy, he picked up a camera and found his next calling. Two years, thousands of portraits, and a move to New York later, Wool is documenting the people who inspire him on a daily basis. Welcome to Creators of NYC.
Mikael Kennedy is a travel-adventure photographer who specializes in Polaroids. He has documented his life and travels — from the jungles of Puerto Rico to the woods of Maine — for more than a decade, all housed on a travel blog called Passport to Trespass. I met with Mikael in his Greenpoint apartment to turn the lens on him.
The initial interest was purely aesthetic and functional; nothing else looked like a Polaroid, and as I was travelling and broke I didn’t have access to a darkroom. Polaroid being a self-contained process was a huge draw. There is also something inherently magical about a Polaroid; it’s a tactile experience. You are holding a photograph in your hand while it develops.
MAN ON A TIGHTROPE IN BERLIN KREUZBERG, LATE 1970s/ EARLY 1980s