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June 16, 2014

22 Candid Photographs That Capture Daily Life at Coney Island, New York From the 1970s

Bruce Gilden (born 1946) is a street photographer. He is best known for his close-up portraits of people photographed candidly in black-and-white using a 35 mm camera and a flashgun. While studying sociology at Penn State, he saw Michelangelo Antonioni's film Blowup in 1968. Influenced by the film, he purchased his first camera and began taking night classes in photography at the School of Visual Arts of New York. Fascinated with normal people on the street and the idea of visual spontaneity, Gilden turned to a career in photography. He routinely uses a flash, alerting his subjects to his presence, unlike most street photographers. His first major project was documenting the sensuality of the bodies of the people at Coney Island.

Towards the end of the 1960s, one year after he first picked up a camera, Bruce Gilden took the subway train through Brooklyn to capture the sunbathers, the weekenders, the sideshow booths and the Cyclone rollercoaster. Coney Island's reputation has steadily slipped since Gilden started to photograph there, and is now known as a place where the poor who cannot escape the summer city heat go for thrills. Regardless of this reputation, Gilden's ability to eke out the characters and eccentricities give the beach and its surrounding neighborhood a humorous view of daily life from the sixties through until the late 1980s.

(© Bruce Gilden/Magnum Photos)



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