In collaboration with Slate's photo blog, Behold, we are extending the conversation with some of their featured photographers.
Greg Brophy’s work documents New York’s disappearing neighborhoods, although he doesn’t necessarily focus on the most obvious areas. For the past two years, Brophy has paid multiple visits to Willets Point, a somewhat raw area in Queens that is populated with metal foundries and automotive repair shops. The aptly nicknamed “Iron Triangle,” is also the title of Brophy’s series of mostly environmental portraits of the workers who do business in the shadow of Citi Field, home to the New York Mets. Although a plan that was put into place during the Bloomberg administration to turn the area into a shopping mall was struck down earlier this year, the area still faces an uncertain future.
We asked him about how he became interested in photography and about how he funds and markets his personal projects. Read the full Behold feature here.
Tell me a bit about your background in photography.
I went to Syracuse University for art and during my third year I studied abroad in London where I learned photography. It was already my third year, too late to switch (majors). I thought ‘Why am I painting? I can get my message across by taking a photograph. I’m very impatient and need to get things done quickly.
How do you manage to finance your career as a photographer?
I don’t really do this for money. I work for B&H Photo Video; I work on their website. It’s a great help because I have access to cameras I can take our for free. I went to Willets Point to test out a camera for B&H. One of the reasons why I met Jennifer was that I realized nobody really teaches you how to market yourself to get your work out there. My wife was yelling at me, “You’re doing all this work but nobody is seeing it!” The hardest thing as a photographer is to get your work out there. I’m passionate about what I do whether I make money form it or not doesn’t matter. I still have stories I want to tell and sometimes its nice because I don’t have to worry about anyone’s voice interfering. I can tell the story I want to tell. In the past if I was hired for work I would have to do it in a different way; more and more people are getting away from that and then figuring out how to get their work out later.
Are you interested in finding representation?
If it happens, it happens. I’m not going to say no to being able to finance this stuff. I have a decent paying job and can afford to buy some things and print the stuff in my darkroom at home. One thing I’m working on is applying for grants. I’d like to work for NGOs to offer my services for free in order to help them help other people. Sometimes it’s strange the money aspect of it, trying to do this kind of work without exploiting the people I’m taking photos of.