6sqft’s series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, Basia Serraty shares her photos of Ridgewood. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
While Basia Serraty admits in an essay she wrote for Ridgewood Social that, upon moving to New York from her small town in Poland, the city did not fit her expectations, she has grown to love this place nonetheless. Her photos of Ridgewood, her neighborhood since moving here in 2004, capture the quiet but colorful corners of the nabe, portraying a clear sense of life despite a general lack of people. Ahead, we talk to Basia about her journey from Poland to NYC, her work, and why she loves Ridgewood.
How did you get into photography?
It all started about 15 years ago when I was studying Linguistics in Poznan, Poland. At some point, I realized I needed something more creative in my life and started taking photo classes in the evening and pretty much got addicted. It was still all film back then and I would spend days and nights in the darkroom.
What do you find most photogenic about Ridgewood?
Almost everything, I have to say – the architecture, storefronts, signs – but mostly its unique, somehow suburban character. This neighborhood carries very different moods and feelings. It can be beautiful and rundown, absurd and intriguing all at the same time.
Do you find any other New York City neighborhoods as photogenic as Ridgewood?
Queens, in general, is very photogenic, rich with diversity and images that are just waiting to be captured.
Do you take your camera with you everywhere?
I do! When I’m in New York I take my Contax T2 with me every day – it’s a 35 mm point-and-shoot film camera that beautifully captures color and is great for shooting urban scenery.
Most of your photos of Ridgewood seem to have been taken in the winter. Do you prefer taking photos in the winter?
To be honest, I didn’t realize that but yes, I think I do. The light can be much more interesting during fall, winter and early spring days. Those seasons bring an array of long shadows during very sunny days, contrasting to the subdued light when it’s cloudy and grey.
I also noticed that most of your photos don’t have people in them – do you prefer to focus exclusively on the landscape, or is this accidental?
I simply love finding quiet moments in the urban landscape and still life found on the streets of the city, which can tell us just as much about the neighborhood as portraits. It’s like collecting traces of people’s existence.
While Greenpoint’s Polish population stagnates, Ridgewood’s increasingly grows. Do you think Ridgewood is becoming NYC’s new main Polish neighborhood?
The Polish community has definitely increased here over the years, but I wouldn’t call it a new Greenpoint. It has its own character and feel and is also a home to many more immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe, Latin America, and other parts of the world
Ridgewood was the first neighborhood I moved to after arriving in New York in 2004 and it has pretty much been my home ever since. It always offered sort of an escape from the big city and relief from crowded streets, which I really like.
How has Ridgewood proved similar to Poland?
Ridgewood has a smalltown feel, very similar to the one I’m from. Neighbors know each other and often meet on the stoops in front of their houses. It’s a neighborhood that is very family oriented. But it’s definitely much more diverse with culture and influences from all over the world, something that is still lacking in Poland.
Where in Poland are you from?
I was raised in Witnica, a small town in the Western part of Poland, by the border with Germany. It’s a beautiful area, lush with forests, lakes, and rivers.
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All photographs © Basia Serraty
Tags : Basia Serraty
Neighborhoods : ridgewood