Alex Lopez photographs Coney Island in hushed and reverent tones. His photos are enough to make you forget about the love/hate relationship you may have with the iconic venue and see it in an entirely new light. He focuses on those fleeting moments made unfathomably precious as they disappear in the blink of an eye – or the flash of a camera. These are photos that could only have been taken from the outside looking in and by someone who understands the crux of each singular point in time. So forget everything you know about Coney Island – crowds, noise, smells and all. Start seeing it the splendid way Alex Lopez sees it.
Why Coney Island? What are your feelings about the place?
I’ve been going to Coney Island since I was a kid. I have fond memories of taking the F train from Queens with my family and friends. I’ve always enjoyed the lively boardwalk, the performers and the sounds of the beach. I feel comfortable there, which has helped me with this project.
How do you think being raised in New York City has shaped you as a photographer?
Through its diversity and grandness, New York City has exposed me to the world. I’m a more understanding, curious and adaptable person because of this city…qualities that have definitely shaped my work.
What is one experience, as a photographer, that sticks out to you the most?
I’ve always enjoyed live music and theater. I had the pleasure of working for The Public Theater, photographing their shows and community outreach programs. Being surrounded by actors, writers, musicians and great literature was very inspiring to me.
What is something you know now that you wish you had back when you were just starting out?
I worked as the Studio Manager at Noho Productions and I learned a lot about photography, but the most important thing I learned from Paul Grand (the owner) is to think long term. This is difficult to do when you are first starting out, you expect results immediately. This clouds your judgment and you make bad decisions. The sooner you begin to think long term the better off you’ll be. Life is long.
What will you do after this? Do you have another project coming up?
I plan to continue with this project, but will extend it to the Rockaways. I’m also starting a portrait project on the diversity of New York.
Raised in New York City, Alex has chronicled workers, performers, all classes and ethnicities of everyday people surrounded by urban landscape, decay, vibrancy and commerce, street culture, street smells, festivities and celebrations. With reverence, he isolates people from their settings and in doing so, illuminates and records a piece of cultural history within the commonplace. The images convey ease and familiarity; sometimes irony, but always timelessness.
“I photograph because I want to get inside of the experiences that allow me to understand different people and everything they bring with them to New York City. I want to pay respect to their symbols, foods, stories, sounds, traditions and emotions that we all have in common.”