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Special places archive

October 2005

Brooklyn storefronts

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According to internet folklore, shonky online camera retailers are concentrated in Brooklyn. Stories of bait-and-switch, hard-sell and plain non-delivery abound on rec.photo.digital.

Don Wiss is a Brooklyn local and a photographer. He finds the street addresses of Brooklyn online camera vendors by searching corporate registers and doing whois searches. Then he cycles around the neighbourhood and takes pictures of the premises. He publishes his photographs on his website along with the business names and websites connected with them.

I enjoy this collection of shopfronts. It invites me to analyse and classify, to create a typology. The photographs are full of his­tor­i­cal layering. They stand as backgrounds for viewing the websites, and for reading the stories of scammers and scoundrels.

Don Wiss’s photo of 5014 16th Avenue, Brooklyn. His investigations suggest these are the premises of A & M Photo World and preferredphoto.com.

Posters on usenet respond in various ways to these photographs. For some folk the run-down shopfronts signify un­whole­some­ness. Not necessarilly, I say, and so does Don Wiss:

I know of at least one blog that mentions my site and argues that the low cost look means they can pass the savings on to their customers. This is fine by me, as I don’t want to pass judgement at my site on the places I picture. I impartially picture everybody I can find. [‘25 new Brooklyn camera dealer pictures’, rec.photo.digital, 5 September 2005]

filed under USA + Urban life

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