How many amateur photographers get a chance to exchange ideas with somebody whose pictures have been published in dozens of books and periodicals and who has shown and discussed his work at conferences and exhibitions worldwide and on line?
Jerry Krase leads Good Neighbors’ Old Fotogs group whose members include a number of other, more accomplished, photographers. He is a Professor Emeritus at Brooklyn College where his specialty was visual sociology. Visual sociology focuses on learning about different cultures throughout the world through visual media and data collection.
“I have been using photography and drawings to capture life in urban spaces since I was a teenager,“ Jerry says. “I have a good eye for composition and I’m interested in the aesthetics of a picture. But I’m more concerned about what it shows and what it means to viewers than its technical excellence, although that’s important.“
“At first, I was taking photos in Brooklyn, and then in the other boroughs of New York City and then abroad. I have always been interested in taking pictures of marginalized groups, showing how they are, in effect, excluded from certain neighborhoods and how these change over time.“
Over the years, Jerry’s work has taken him to Australia, China, South Africa and many other countries. “In each country, I have documented the everyday things that people do, alone or with family members, and also the festivals and religious practices that bring people together. When I was in South Africa, I tried to capture ordinary life on the street and the dignity of the people there, despite their poverty. In my pictures, whatever the scene, I’m not looking to make people look bad.”
He sometimes uses photographs to provoke a discussion. After 9/11, Muslim Americans were shown in a negative light in the media, Jerry noted. “The visual depiction of Muslims was pretty nasty. I tried to talk about Islamophobia by showing photos of Muslims performing the same ordinary activities of daily living as the rest of us.”
“One question that social science photographers always have to ask themselves,” he says,” is how much text do you need to accompany the photo.“ There are no hard and fast rules,“ he says. “It depends on the subject and the audience and the photographer’s purpose in taking the photo. I like using the photos I’ve taken over the years to show how urban neighborhoods, such as the City’s financial district, change over time. Very often, little or no text is needed.”
Jerry and his wife, Suzanne Nicoletti, a GNPS Board member, were both born and raised in Brooklyn as were their three daughters and their grandchildren.
Jerry took over the Good Neighbors’ photography group in 2022. Now called The Old Fotogs, it currently meets over Zoom. In the near future, Jerry hopes the group can attend photography exhibitions and meet outside to take photos in different parts of the City.
“I want us to exchange ideas and comment on each other’s work: on techniques and how they can be improved, and on what the photographer was trying to achieve. I’m honored by the fact that there are some very good photographers among us and I can learn from them.”