Pulitzer Center Connected Coastlines Grant: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Photography Project

Pulitzer Center Connected Coastlines Grant: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Photography Project

Project Description

Emblematic of global warming–but often overlooked–is Jamaica Bay, right in New York City. In the shadow of skyscrapers only miles from Midtown Manhattan and near John F. Kennedy Airport, this fragile but vibrant 18,000-acre wetland wildlife estuary is at severe risk of sustainability. 

I will document environmental transformation and loss at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. As a continuation of a previous grant-supported fine art photography project, my sincere hope is publishing this portfolio will be a catalyst for environmental awareness. 

I am applying for a Pulitzer Center Connected Coastlines Grant to make this happen. Would you be interested in collaborating together? If so, a brief letter of interest or support from publishers or editors is crucially helpful as part of my Pulitzer application.

Project Details

Comprising an area almost equal to that of Manhattan, the Refuge is one of New York City’s most extraordinary natural resources. It remains highly undeveloped but is accessible to millions of people, remarkably by bus and subway. However, it is at extraordinary risk of rising sea levels, hurricanes, and other effects of climate change–many of which have already begun.

Help from the Pulitzer Center Connected Coastlines Grant and publication is crucial to distribute this project. 

I will spend about a month photographing in the labyrinth of waterways, meadowlands, freshwater ponds, intertidal salt marshes–including the remaining effects from Hurricane Sandy–focused on damage to the land, as well as trying to capture a haunting, lyrical feeling of the place while pinpointing sites of change. 

The result will be hundreds of photos edited into a portfolio of about twenty images, some or all would be published. Ideally, these would be displayed straightforwardly, with a descriptive caption describing each piece. The total project time could take less than two months.

This represents a continuation of my long-term environmentally-related photography projects. In 2015, I won a grant to document the remnants of Hurricane Sandy in Jamaica Bay and was a Fulbright Alternate (in Arctic Canada).  

Publication of this project would bring greater awareness to climate change, which is occurring all around us. Generous support from the Pulitzer Center Connected Coastlines Grant and sharing this is necessary and feel it is urgent to complete this project before the region metamorphoses further.


Project methodology starts with a thoroughly researched environmental and historical review of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. This includes connecting with environmentalists, scientists, historical organizations, libraries, universities, and schools as well as Rockaway Artists Alliance, who I’ve worked with, to further understand the Refuge and pinpoint areas of specific change. 

Additionally, community engagement is crucial. Working with locals to help identify and point out specific locations of flooding, storm surges, etc., will become the locus of some of my photographs.

I will spend about a month taking frequent or daily trips to the Refuge where photographs will be made mostly at twilight and if possible, at night. The approach is both personal and intuitive, attempting to capture the haunting beauty of the place. Inspiration comes from Hudson River School painters focused on the use of light such as Frederic Edwin Church; photography seems uniquely adept at capturing changing worlds and I am drawn to projects by Nineteenth Century photographer Eugène Atget. 

The resulting hundreds or thousands of photographs will be reviewed, selected, edited, and color corrected, resulting in a new portfolio of about twenty photos. 

These will then be distributed and published. Ideally, some or all of the portfolio will be presented simply and in a straightforward manner, with minimal but descriptive captions below each image. Social media posts will be shared throughout the project in real-time to gain local and international interest.

This continues a 2015 grant-supported project in Jamaica Bay, and is part of my long-term series on photographing environmental changes.

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