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See the Winners of the 2013 Brooklyn Navy Yard Photo Contest

After a month of voting and deliberation, we are proud to announce the winners of the People’s Choice and Photographer’s Choice Awards in the first annual Brooklyn Navy Yard photography contest.  All of the submitted photographs were taken on our four Seasonal Photography Tours in 2013 (the next tour is Saturday, January 18!) – we received over 200 submissions that were whittled down to 12 finalists by our great group of Navy Yard-based photographers and artists.  Now – on to the winners.

People’s Choice Award Winner: David Ziegler

A hook is something that grabs you – and that appears to be what happened here.  David Ziegler’s hook grabbed hundreds of you and guided you to your phones and computers, and to the ballot box at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92, where the finalists were (and still are) on display.  Like our recent mayoral election, there was a clear mandate, and this People’s Choice Award goes to “The Hook.”

Its composition was catchy, with warm earthy colors on a cool background.  It is iconic and straightforward; graphically strong with rough, rusty texture on a smooth sky.  But there must have been something greater here…something that set it apart from eleven other brilliant photos – maybe its acute sense of place.

Photo by David Ziegler @daz9nyc
Photo by David Ziegler @daz9nyc

A large hoist hook, which hung from a crane at the FDNY Marine Division on the Yard’s eastern side, hangs in front.  Like much of the outdoor machinery in the Yard, it is not polished and sleek, but weathered.  Thoughtful voters may have seen this hook as analogous to a comfortable home, a place that is functional and warm.  In the background stands the counterpoint: Manhattan and the new One World Trade Center.  It is polished, sleek, and cool; it is powerful, and despite its youth, the tower already seems comfortable in the fame.

The photo juxtaposes the sleek Manhattan skyline with a symbol of working class Brooklyn, but Ziegler’s photo reaches beyond this literal insider/outsider motif.  People all over the world can identify that tower and place this photo in New York City.  But the foreground of the photo symbolizes something just as universal.  The sweat and blood at the roots of not only that tower or Manhattan, but behind all of today’s great architecture and engineering feats.  Being in the Navy Yard heightens awareness to the wide range of industrious collaboration that turns the gears of American society.  Whether we are talking about the shipworkers and sailors of the past, or the manufacturers, artists, and craftspeople of today, there is a sense of unifying purpose to this place.  A purpose defined by a hook, and framed by David Ziegler for us all to appreciate.

Photographer’s Choice Award Winner: TaraFawn Marek

While the People’s Choice winner was entrenched in history and geography, the Photographer’s Choice is bathed in the universal. In some ways, it’s timeless.

Photo by TaraFawn Marek
Photo by TaraFawn Marek

TaraFawn Marek’s photo is transcendent – gone are the references of gritty industry; instead, the beauty and balance of the machine pulses out of the photo.  It reminds me of Brooklyn poet Marianne Moore’s description of the Brooklyn Bridge, “synonymous with endurance and united by stress.”  In 1929, photographer Walker Evans did a notable series about the bridge – his goal was to make something that had become familiar and utilitarian awesome once again.  In this case we’re not talking about our beloved bridge, but the spirit behind construction.  Trusses and cables veer this way and that, with scarcely a square corner in sight.  Here the modernist grid championed by the great 20th century artists of New York (evocative of Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie) seems finally content in today’s Gotham.  Frank Gehry would approve.  And so, apparently, do our resident experts.

So congratulations TaraFawn and David!  Each of them will receive a private 2-hour tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard for themselves and 30 of their friends.  We’re excited to see the next crop of talented photographers on the Seasonal Photography Tours in 2014. We commend all the contestants, and we are proud to share the creative and industrious spirit of the Yard with all of our fans.

Turnstile Tours offers the Seasonal Photography Tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard four times throughout the year.  The first tour of the 2014 season will be Saturday, January 18 at 11am.  Get more information here, and advance ticket purchase is highly recommended.  We also offer our Past, Present & Future Tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard every Saturday and Sunday 2-4pm, and other special themed tours of the Yard.  All tours are offered in partnership with and begin at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92, which offers free admission to three floors of exhibitions on the Yard’s past and present, the Ted & Honey rooftop cafe, and a host of great special events and programs.

The post was authored by Rich Garr.