NYC Village Halloween Parade
NYC-based photographer Erin Teresa Browning finds that the most comfortable place for her to exist is behind the camera. More often than not, cameras serve as a social ice breaker for artists who are on the shy side. Photographers create their own worlds and oftentimes see beauty in things or moments that others would hardly pay any attention to. It’s not easy to capture the spirit of the event. You have to be able to blend in, almost becoming a spirit yourself. If Tyra Banks were the judge of an event photography competition, she might have put it this way: “It’s like you are there, but make it ‘not there.’” Erin Teresa’s work is clear evidence of her eerie ability to become one with the energy she’s out to capture, and it’s a sight to see. We couldn’t think of a better person to capture the essence of this year’s NYC Village Halloween Parade, and are happy to be able to publish her hauntingly beautiful images. Read below as Erin describes her work and her coverage of the 46th edition of the annual parade.
I am always photographing events around NYC and am inspired by the energy of group expression. I find the reasons that people come together endlessly fascinating. Sometimes positive, at times confrontational, but always a common interest running through, connecting each person. I especially enjoy those where people are expressing themselves through dress, articulating their identity or fantasy identity. There is a transformation that takes place within and radiates out. I thrive on the creativity of people that revel in self-expression, those that are brave and unique individuals. As someone that is not always comfortable in my own skin, I greatly admire people that own their identity in any capacity that makes them whole.
I am continuously inspired by embellished beauty: feathers, fringe, beads, makeup and sparkles, leather and heels, and all the varying ways of adorning oneself. Speaking to beauty – what I mean is all the interpretations of that word – beauty is completely unique to each individual and I celebrate every iteration of that expression.
I shoot predominantly with an old Nikon F2 35mm film camera. When I am out and about or at an event it is inevitable that I am approached by several seasoned, old-time photographers who want to talk to me about my camera. They share stories of the old such-and-such film camera they used way back when, and applaud my use of analog photography. I usually keep to myself when I’m out shooting, unless I’m asking a subject’s permission to photograph them, and one of my goals as a photographer is to get better at building connections with people. I love the camaraderie of photographers at the events I’m shooting and enjoy the opportunity to come out of my shell and share a love of picture making. The Village Halloween Parade was no different. I had a group of Egyptian Pharaohs who were very enthusiastic about my choice of analog photography and wished me luck and fun after sharing their amazement that I was shooting with film. An older gentleman talked to me endlessly about several people he had worked with in the past who would have loved and or had my camera, and he himself wanted to have an F2 in his collection – I smiled then politely moved on. Then there was the real camera fanatic that wanted a picture of my picture taker!
This particular series of photographs of the Village Halloween Parade in NYC is my attempt to capture glimpses into the celebration of altered identities. I was hoping to capture the qualities of costume, spirits, wild things, innocent, devious, humorous, and beautiful. The dark of night with warm light, colors, and soft outlines.
This year’s parade theme was Wild Things, and people did not disappoint. Everyone fully embodied their characters and creatively played up to the cameras. I happily accepted the death threat from an ax-wielding Patrick Bateman, the eerie eye contact of a trumpet-playing flying monkey, the hand of a larger-than-life skeleton reaching down from above, aliens and pumpkin-head monsters, Wild Things taller than the streetlights, Ghostbusters, unicorns, squirrels, zombies, ravens, and black-horned beasts. Some people chose to be beautiful Wild Things with beaded masks, some went as sequined dancers wielding snapping rope whips, snapping so close I thought for sure I was going to get hit.
Some chose the expression of sound – a trio of horn players, a solo trumpet blower, the Demolition Brass Band, The Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps marching band, drummers keeping beat as the living dead. In any event of this magnitude there is inevitably a waiting period throughout the evening for marchers and floats. The booming music coming from the idling floats, live musicians, drumming troupes, the Ghostbusters theme song on repeat, a culmination of all the noise and music whirls all up into a fervor keeping the energy high as participants await their chance to strut their Halloween best. Spirits were high, murderous, creepy, sinister, innocent, and fun. It was a night to be out in NYC!