Photography on the fringes

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Broken-down industrial structures might detract most people, but for photographers with a sense of adventure, they can be ideal spots for urban exploration and inspiration.

Take Park Slope-based photographer Nathan Kensinger, who prefers to shoot in abandoned buildings to find exclusive snapshots and edge out competitors.

“The same people have taken the same pictures — the same bridge, the same dead-end street,” said Kensinger, who’ll show off his photos next week in Downtown Brooklyn. “It’s rare to find a place that no one else has documented.”

One such place is “The Batcave,” a squatter house along the Gowanus Canal, which he photographed in 2007. The inhabitants of the Batcave originally lived in a communal style, said Kensinger, but the building’s owners evicted them once drug use and violence became common in the illegal residence. Kensinger wasn’t deterred, as he and a group of photographers sneaked past the guard and documented the impromptu bedrooms, shanties and remnants of a bike shop within the building.

Curiosity has also driven him to infiltrate other “mysterious” industrial buildings and neighborhoods throughout the borough, including “The Hole,” a neighborhood of abandoned houses near Howard Beach. The border town got its name because it’s sunken into the ground, said Kensinger, and is prone to flooding.

“There are boats in the front yards,” he said. Reportedly used a mob dumping ground, more than a few bodies are suspected as well.

Other off-the-beaten-path locations Kensinger has captured include the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the Fresh Kills landfill.

Nathan Kensinger’s photos and lecture, Metropolitan Exchange [33 Flatbush Avenue Ext. between Nevins and Livingston streets in Downtown, (718) 643-7361], March 30, 6:30 pm. For info, visit His work also can be seen in “The Gentrification of Brooklyn” show at MoCADA [80 Hanson Pl. at S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 230-0952] through May 16.

— Tony Cella

Updated 5:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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