Japanese photographer Hiroyuki Ito has been wandering the streets of New York City with his Leica for over two decades, capturing everything from Koko the Killer Clown at Coney Island to anonymous morning commuters on the Q. He recently self-published a new photobook, Brooklyn, that serves almost as a love letter to the borough. I asked him to write few words about what the place means to him and why he continues to photograph it.
- Elizabeth Renstrom, VICE Photo Editor
Brooklyn, to me, is like an ex-wife with whom I am still friends.
I lived in Ditmas Park from 1999 until 2007, when I moved to Astoria shortly after being mugged at gunpoint in front of my apartment building. Those eight years were not exactly the happiest time of my life. I was alone and desperate, but the distance in time and place has allowed me to grow fond of the most populous borough in New York City. The photographs in the book were taken from 1992, when I first moved to New York from Tokyo, until now.
Brooklyn is massive and uncontrollable—it just has too many people doing too many different things. Any attempt to completely document its multiple faces seems impossible. No matter how fairly you try to represent it, it's never black enough, Hasidic enough, Catholic enough, hipster enough, industrial enough, or whatever enough.
Each person carries his or her own definitive image of Brooklyn carved out from their own experiences. I am not a one-man census bureau, so instead of visiting every block and meticulously interviewing all residents, I am out on the street trying to feel the visual pulse that makes Brooklyn one of the most unique places on this planet.
All photographs by Hiroyuki Ito