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On a rainy Saturday in April, more than 100 photographers fanned out across the streets, alleyways, and subway stations of Brooklyn armed with cameras, rolls of film, and a mission.

The mission: to capture the breadth of culture in the borough’s 60-plus neighborhoods.

The results of those excursions, from Bedford-Stuyvesant to Bay Ridge to Brooklyn Heights, will adorn the walls of Borough Hall starting in early September.

Positive Focus, a nonprofit center for Brooklyn photographers, teamed with adayinthelife.org, a photography Web site, to sponsor the event, "A Day in the Life of Brooklyn."

"It’s about documenting Brooklyn and the daily lives of the people and culture," explained Rob Lowell, a Positive Focus board member who helped organize the event.

Because of a copyright issue, (Harper Collins holds a copyright for a book series of the same name) the organization was forced to change the title of the show to "Real Brooklyn, a Day in Our Life."

On April 26, each photographer set out to their designated section of the borough. Their only assignment was to document the neighborhood however they saw fit.

Each photographer submitted up to four prints from the day. (Because it rained much of the day, the contest was extended for a second day).

Sifting through more than 400 prints, judges last month selected 80 photographs to hang in the Borough Hall show.

The selection is an eclectic cross-section representing the diversity of Brooklyn. There’s Hank Gans’ shot of a heavily rouged, deep-red lipsticked Junior’s counter lady, her hair in a bun with a dark pink bow as she offers up a strawberry cheesecake, a glimmer of a smile on her face. Contrast that with Carolina Salguero’s stark, black-and-white image of what appears to be a gruff, older longshoreman standing below a dock rigging, the only other image visible a light bulb casting light on a dock structure in the background.

Amy, a nose-pierced Laundromat employee, is captured matching socks at a Carroll Gardens Laundromat on the corner of Henry and President streets in a photo taken by Brenda Milis while Sherri Nutti shot a young boy in an East Flatbush barber shop watching closely in the mirror as the barber takes an electric razor to the back of his head.

A photo by Brooklyn Papers photographer Tom Callan was selected for the show’s promotional material.

Assigned to DUMBO, Callan shot photos of the Brooklyn Bridge from the roof deck of the Sweeney building, but the photo that caught the judges’ eyes he took from the Q train platform at Pacific Street. The shot peeks into one of the train’s windows and catches a crowded, but not packed, subway car carrying a typical cross section of riders of various ethnicity. All are looking in different directions - one reading a newspaper, a couple who may be in conversation - and seem oblivious to the photographer on the platform. All, that is, except for one youngster in the far right of the window wearing a hooded, New York emblazoned sweatshirt, who is mugging for the camera.

Callan attributed the photo’s success to good timing and being in the right place at the right time.

The Brooklyn Heights-based photographer says he often travels with his camera out and ready because otherwise "you see a perfect shot but you can’t capture it."

"The judges liked the fact that it had the Brighton Beach sign and that the train was going out that way heading towards Brooklyn. It captured the essence of the event," said Lowell, adding, "It’s all about celebrating Brooklyn."

A selection of images chosen for "Real Brooklyn, a Day in Our Life" can be viewed online at www.adayinthelife.org/brooklyn. Positive Focus can be reached at (718) 854-4639. The exhibit will be on display at Borough Hall (Joralemon Street at Court Street in Downtown Brooklyn) starting with an opening reception on Monday, Sept. 8, from 5:30 pm to 8 pm, through Sept. 30. A smaller selection of photographs from the exhibit will be on display at Photo District Gallery, 37 W. 20th St., in Manhattan, starting Aug. 21 for four weeks.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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