Summer began as a collection of neighborhood photographs that I took in the borough of Brooklyn in New York City. The core values articulated in the photographs are rooted in the daily lives of inner city youth. The idea for this project began to take form while in a classroom—a few days before summer break in 2003. One of the teachers was reading John Clare’s Sonnet to the class—a beautiful evocation of summer. Although the poem’s imagery celebrates nature, I imagined other things about summer that relate to what I normally see in an urban setting.
Ultimately, the inspiration that led to making this project a reality was the result of a chance encounter three summers later, with a very popular seventeen-year-old named Jamal. Jamal allowed me to photograph him and his friends for that entire summer. However, the project grew and expanded beyond stories about Jamal, his friends, and his world.
In its complete form, Summer is not just a celebration of a season; Summer is a narrative about life in the inner city. It examines the symbolic meaning of space and how that reflects and affects generational identity.