Wednesday Night Backgammon

Welcome to the Club

An ongoing documentary project and portrait series that chronicles the interior lives of New York City’s social clubs and community groups. To date, I’ve photographed over 25 different groups across the city with the goal of documenting what it means to belong. The photos are a mix of portraits, objects, interior spaces, and group activities.

From loosely-formed collectives that gather in public parks to those that have been meeting in private clubhouses for generations, New York is populated by social clubs, each with its own set of rules and rituals. While they differ wildly in terms of demographics, purpose, and activities, what they all share in common is an essential point of human connection and sense of kinship for their members.

In a city of nearly nine million people, many of whom have spent much of the past few years in isolation, socializing has taken on a new significance. The pandemic laid bare an epidemic of loneliness that had been brewing quietly for years.

In the Surgeon General’s recently published advisory on loneliness, he concludes that social connection is “as essential to our long-term survival as food and water.” Through this project, I look at isolation through its opposite, celebrating the inclusive spaces that unite a group of otherwise disconnected New Yorkers into tight-knit communities. 

Supported in part by an Awesome Foundation grant.

Coney Island Polar Bear Club

New York Lawn Bowling Club

Knickerbocker Field Club

Chinese Freemasons Athletic Club

New York Yo-Yo Club

Sirens Motorcycle Club

Willets Point

Willets Point, a 62-acre plot of land once home to over 200 auto repair shops, has been at the heart of a contentious land battle since the city announced plans to redevelop the site in 2007.

The Iron Triangle, as the area is known, sits in the shadow of Citi Field along the northeast waterfront of Queens. After years of stalled plans and legal back and forth, demolition began in 2016, displacing a large swath of businesses, some of which had been in the same family for generations. The next phase of redevelopment threatens the existence of the dozens of businesses that remain.

The Regulars: RollerJam USA

The Regulars is an ongoing series that documents the people who frequent their neighborhood haunts, week after week. This particular set looks at the regulars at RollerJam USA, Staten Island’s largest roller disco. Every Saturday night (adult night), they lace up their skates and glide across the rink under disco ball-dappled light. Some of the regulars have been coming to RollerJam USA every week for years. They dance together in the center of the rink, help out fallen newbies, or skate alone, singing along with the blaring music, perfectly content in their own worlds. They might not know each other’s names or life stories but, as regular Cheryl says “when you’re out here, none of that matters.”

Shot on assignment for The New York Times

Sunday Routine
How an English D.J. in Brooklyn Spends Her Sundays

Street Lab
Go Play in the Street, Kids. Really.