Photographer Uliana Bazar released a gorgeous photo essay on Brighton Beach, a collection that captures the vividness of life and color in the community. An NPR report highlights Bazar’s collection and talks of how she had to gain the trust of the people she was photographing.
The NPR story recounts how Bazar, who is Ukrainian, came to hear of Brighton Beach and why she decided to focus her work on the neighborhood:
Photographer Uliana Bazar grew up in Ukraine and had heard of “Little Odessa” during her childhood. The New York community is named after a Ukrainian city on the Black Sea — and today it’s a community of mostly Eastern Europeans, many of whom immigrated after 1970.
In 2012, when Bazar was a graduate student at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, she decided to visit the place she’d heard so much about. And then she went back 26 more times.
Initially, she found that people in the tightknit community did not want to be photographed, and it took time to build trust. She said they didn’t want to be misrepresented, and many are illegal immigrants who were nervous about being exposed.
But eventually they began to open their homes. First it was a family’s personal Easter celebration. Later, a man saw her editing photos in a coffee shop and invited her to visit a Russian sauna. Bazar even met a woman from a Ukrainian village neighboring her grandmother’s who offered her a place to stay — a one-room apartment with a single bed, which they shared.
“I think I was attracted to people who could potentially be my relative or my parents’ friends,” Bazar says.
Beautiful stuff. You can read more about Bazar’s work and see more of her collection by clicking here.