Gowanus Your Face Off
Gowanus, Brooklyn
The crack between two hipster neighborhoods, home to the now superfunded Canal, the flash point for the new 'Buy Local' and textile revolutions, & filled with brilliant bohemians. . . this is Gowanus & it’ll awesome your face off.

Take Your Best Shot

Image From/Of Katie O'Beirne

Katie O’Beirne says she’s not a photographer, but she has somehow managed to capture lots of images of many different people. You see Katie didn’t actually take any photos, what she did was place a disposable camera out in a public place with a note that read: “please snap a photo. the more people in the shot, the BETTER! most importantly, have fun with this.” What happened next delivered images that only photographers could dream about. Katie got shots of people smiling, people goofing around, people’s personalities, and the essence of “fun”, which she requested in her note. She then took these unique images and put them on her tumblr page for all to see. Katie’s idea became kickerstarter project, which we posted about last NovemberIn case you missed it here’s the video from the kickstarter:

We had a chance to ask Katie some questions about this crazy experiment and also hear a little about her upcoming photo exhibit that feature some of the photos from the project

They still sell disposable cameras? 

Yes! Right? My friend was driving through rural FL and picked up a few at a heavily discounted price. Thanks, Big Lots. I think with regards to photography, it’s the most analog, most stripped down, most user-friendly method of taking photos and that’s the part about this project I love most. Simplistic, minimalistic, anything goes.  

How did you come up with this concept?

….I’m a big fan of exploring new neighborhoods of the city, and every weekend, I set out to a new neighborhood by myself just to see what’s shaking. So, when you can combine this hobby with cheap cameras, I decided to fasten one to a park bench in Prospect Park with a simple note attached, asking passersby to be respectful, but to also have fun with the camera. Snap a shot, leave it for the next person. The rest is a little magical. I proposed my idea to Kickstarter, funds started coming through the door, international volunteers asked if they’d be able to set up my cameras in their home towns. And now: an art show.

Did you ever think about adding props to this project? 

I got an offer for a collaboration with someone in California who also has a public photo project up and running, but alongside his cameras are foam clown noses. You get to frame the photo, you get to pick the clown nose you want, you get to set the pace. The offer was pitched a little too late in the game for me; if I started this project up again in the Spring, then it’d be a great consideration. But at the same time, I feel like the project ended in a graceful way. I got just what I wanted out of it and I don’t want to force another beginning. I’ve been grateful for the opportunity and it was a beautiful experience for me.

In the video you mention the results “differ” in this project according to neighborhoods. What do you mean “differ”?

Tourists galore in Times Square, including a “Free Hug” guy, plenty of Crocs and capris to go around. The set from Strawberry Fields in Central Park was very whimsical, women wearing glass bead earrings, hair tied in loose buns, etc.

Did you have the disposable camera’s all developed at the same place?

A few staple photo developing studios in SoHo. BUT! — if I got a good vibe from the location I placed my camera that day, and if the roll was snapped through within an hour (fast-timing), then I’d go to the nearest photo developing studio I could find …About $16 later…

In your upcoming exhibit is there a particular photo that you find especially interesting?

I really loved the set from Tokyo. The only mental representation I have of Tokyo is what I’ve seen in film, documentary, photos. I’ve never left the States, so I have to rely on others’ accounts of worldwide cities. This set enabled me to look a little more personally at the subjects, the neighborhood, the street culture. I’m now friends with the volunteer from Tokyo who contacted me. Her name’s Junko and we’ll exchange a few sentences back and forth on Facebook.

Image From Tokyo Set

So, where will you be in 10 years?

I just had a dream about this. Well, if you want details, I have ‘em! I see myself living in a small cabin the Carolinas with a wrap-around porch, teaching Kindergarten again (I was a Kindergarten teacher in FL). Maybe I’ll have a little home-based pottery studio, a few Australian sheep dogs runnin’ around. Just living simply and happily.


Katie’s is having an opening party for new york shots March 12th at Chuko Ramen Bar. You should go… it’s going to be picture perfect!

More details: here.

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