Marisha Camp | The Beach
I began shooting the portraits that would become “The Beach” during a long and sweltering August when I was down and out in New York City. Coney Island saved my spirit. I wandered up and down the beach every weekend sheepishly asking strangers if I could take their picture, and I soon found myself fully immersed in the lives of new friends, immersed in their sorrows and joys instead of my own. On Coney Island, I experienced a sort of generosity that defied every prevailing notion of big city life, of merciless competition and soul-crushing anonymity. I was invited onto towels and blankets and offered endless amounts of food and beer. And stories. Wonderfully sad, touching, harrowing, funny, happy, beautiful stories…
Four years have passed since then. I still wander up and down the beach each summer. Every year I’m terrified it will all be over soon, that Coney Island’s fading amusement parks will give way to hotels and Disneyfication. Everything I love about Coney Island is threatened by development and ignored in debates about blight and eminent domain. But this is no graveyard for lost dreams- the beach is vibrant and alive. A colorful wonderland on a hazy summer afternoon, Coney Island is as much an escapist’s dream world as it is gritty and urban and real. And now I shoot and shoot and shoot so some little part of its magic can never fade away.