Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera

Jae, Lindy and Jaelin, 2008

Wayne Lawrence’s project ‘Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera’ consist of beautiful images of strong and proud men and women, families and couples. Orchard Beach, a beach built in the 1930′s, may not be the most scenic place in New York, but the closest and only place to go swimming and spend a day at the beach in the Bronx.

When the New York based photographer first began taking pictures at Orchard Beach, after moving there from California, he had found a place where he could ‘grow as a photographer’ and didn’t mind spending a lot of time. ‘I was drawn to Orchard Beach in particular because it’s man-made and has a reputation for being one of the worst beaches in New York. But to most of the people who go there, it’s the best thing happening during the summer’.

The facial expressions say a lot about what these strong people have already experienced. They look strong and proud but on the other hand,  they are so fragile. A visit to Orchard Beach means an escape of their daily activities and an opportunity to unload their thoughts.

The picture where the strong, but young boy strikes his arm around the girl and where the girl grabs the smaller girl is one of my favorites. The intimidating look of the boy says more than words can express – proud but very protective, a real alpha male. The girl feels reassured but at the same time she has to take care of the little girl. At least in the way the people are arranged I’m guessing this is a family. Looking at the portrait I wonder if they are really happy. As proud and protective they are captured in the picture, as much fear they ray aswell. Like there is trouble looking out for them that can strike any moment. Is there something behind the viewer  that is frightening? These two sides – pride and fear – make this portrait so fascinating to me. These portraits are alive!