The Behind the Image series uncovers untold stories that lie behind some of the most-well known images by Magnum photographers. Here, we speak to Magnum photographer Bruce Davidson about one of his most famous images, from the seminal body of work Brooklyn Gang.
In spring and summer of 1959, Davidson met a loose group of teenagers, the self-named ‘Jokers’, and followed them through New York’s Brooklyn, from Coney Island to the subways traversing the city, from cafés and bars to beaches and candy stores, capturing the raw edges and sensuality of their teenage years.
Images of kids showing off new tattoos, smoking, couples embracing, hanging out bored or showing off their cool boardwalk attitude, form an intensely intimate depiction of a group of young adults whose lives were being monitored by youth workers, at a time when an estimated thousand gang members roamed the streets of New York City.
Along the way, Davidson “found [himself] 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.” Continue reading.