A tortoise crawling through the street as curious onlookers walk by. A BMXer flying through the air. Little girls hula-hooping. Kids cooling off at a hydrant on a local street on a hot day. These are just some of the more than 300 images displayed at the Bronx Documentary Center’s new exhibit, “Everyday Bronx” which will open March 31 and run through May 14.
The exhibit will feature everyday images of the Bronx captured in real time and traces its genesis to “Everyday Africa” – a collective of photographers working to broaden perception of Africa beyond the headlines. From that, “Everyday Projects” was born which focused on the same mission statement in different parts of the world, like “Everyday Italy, “Everyday India,” and, of course, “Everyday Bronx.”
The Bronx iteration of “Everyday Projects” began as a workshop for elementary school children. As an exercise, the “Everyday Bronx” Instagram account was created for the students to post their photos of the borough. That was back in 2014. It was then handed over to Rhynna Santos who currently manages the account with five volunteers. She is also the curator of the “Everyday Bronx” exhibit at the BDC. Today, the Instagram page has upwards of 6,000 posts and more than 44,000 followers.
“One of the things that makes our account really unique – we source 90% of our material from our followers,” said Santos. And it’s specifically from people who live and work in the Bronx.
Anyone who wants a photo to be considered can post a Bronx photo on Instagram, tag @everydaybronx and use the hashtag by the same name, which will then alert Santos and her crew. They review the photos and if there is an image they want to add to their account, they will reach out to the account holder and ask for permission to use their photo.
“That is one of the ways that we are so different, is that we privilege the images of mostly non-professional photographers,” added Santos who was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in the Bronx. She is the daughter of the famous Grammy award-winning musician, Raymond Santos, who has his name immortalized on a street sign along Evergreen avenue in the Soundview neighborhood.
At an early stage of her career, exhibit contributor Tara Garcia reached out to famous photographer Jamel Shabazz for advice on how to pursue a professional career in photography. According to Garcia, he responded with the following:
- Create a separate account for your professional photos.
- Enter every contest.
- Digital v. film – doesn’t matter, just know your medium.
Garcia is a native Bronxite with an intense passion for her borough. Her inspiration for capturing the Bronx has a lot to do with the negative connotations that surround it. With the reputation the borough has as impoverished and crime-ridden, Garcia says, “We’re on a mission to prove people wrong.”
“Everyday Bronx” works to not only correct the detrimental narrative of the borough, but to also highlight the people that live and work in the borough as well as serve as archive. As new businesses open, old ones go by the wayside and residential condominiums pop up all over the Bronx, it’s important to preserve what once was. There’s something about nostalgia that feels like home.
Opening night for the “Everyday Bronx” exhibit is March 31, 6-9 p.m. It will exude Bronx vibes with DJ KayKay47, breakdancing and graffiti. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made here.