I am originally from Montreal Canada, and I have been in NYC for almost 15 years. My background is in International Affairs and I have a background in youth development and women’s empowerment, with a focus on using photography for social justice. I worked in the non-profit world for 12 years before taking the leap to becoming a full-time photographer in 2018. I am the Founding Director of the NYC photography collective Camera of the Month Club, an artist member at SohoPhoto Gallery and a Nikon Scholarship winner at the Santa Fe Scholarship Workshops. I am drawn to the ocean and my personal work is a reflection of that. I am fascinated by the juxtaposition of beach culture and landscape in the midst of NYC’s urban chaos. I have been working on my submitted series Beach Lovers since 2015. I live in Brooklyn with my two cats and many plants.
Beach Lovers records intimate moments shared by couples at the beaches of New York- Rockaway, Fort Tilden and Coney Island. I spend a lot of time by the ocean and ritualistically photograph beach-goers. Over time I noticed the intimate gestures of couples around me; some tender, rubbing sunscreen on a partner’s back; some lustful, a deep kiss in the water. Many more go unnoticed, expressed by the legions of exposed salty bodies surrounding those that stand out. Being on the beach emboldens couples to enjoy more affectionate freedom, their inhibitions less hidden than anywhere else I’ve observed in the city.
There is something mesmerizing about escaping from the gritty, heaving city that gets so hot in the summer, to sit on such a beautiful coastline. Just a few miles away from sticky sidewalks are sandy beaches and lazy ocean waves. New Yorkers are bound together by surviving extreme weather. Summer here is so hot, sweaty, and aching that it is sometimes unbearable; it is always nostalgic, and all entertain the hope that it culminates in connection or passion. I began my series of beach photographs as a way to communicate that hope for a connection that so many yearn for. It is an ongoing love letter to New Yorkers, written on the city’s beaches everyone knows and loves.
I observe couples and I record them, which sometimes puts me in the position of voyeur. I capture tender moments that would otherwise be lost or overlooked. It is a glimpse into intimate relationships that is not often shared. The couples lie horizontal and are nearly naked, but they are not sexual or sexualized. It is about the public display of intimacy between couples from diverse backgrounds, a claiming of public space for private communication and tenderness.
To view more of Erica Reade’s work please visit their website.