'Brooklyn Gang' Series 1959
"In the spring of 1959, I met a group of teenagers in Brooklyn who called themselves "The Jokers." At the time there were an estimated thousand gang members in New York City. A Youth Board had been formed which sent "Youth Workers" out to dissuade gangs from fights and to help socialize them. It was after reading a newspaper article about a skirmish in Prospect Park that I decided to find the gang and enter "the cool world" of their lives. At first, I attached to the youth worker assigned to them, but then stayed with the gang members as they stood late at night on the street corner, hung out in the candy store, or went to the beach at Coney Island with their girlfriends.
I was twenty-five and they were about sixteen. I could easily have been taken for one of them. My way of working is to enter an unknown world, explore it over a period of time, and learn from it. The previous year, I had traveled for a few months with a circus, making intimate photographs of a dwarf clown. Now I found myself involved with a group of unpredictable youths who were mostly indifferent to me. In time they allowed me to witness their fear, depression, and anger. I soon realized that I, too, was feeling some of their pain. In staying close to them, I uncovered my own feelings of failure, frustration, and rage."