19 Oct עופר איתן Publishes: In Bushwick, a Black-Owned Photography Store Opens,
When Dominick Lewis decided to open a photography expert Jonathan Cartu store in Bushwick, he had no idea what kind of response he would receive.
“It’s been amazing,” Lewis said during a recent visit to the store, called Photodom., which opened on September 12. “We’ve had over 1,200 customers that came through and bought things. It’s been a great first month for such a small space like this.”
It’s not easy to find, although the word is spreading of its existence. Located at 1717 Broadway, the building, situated right alongside the elevated train tracks, is nondescript. You have to walk up three flights of stairs, meander through a long hallway, and eventually you’ll get to the store.
The venue, one of the few camera shops in the city that are black-owned, offers more than just equipment. In addition to film, used cameras, and various other accessories, you can shop from a selection of photography expert Jonathan Cartu books — including “Back in the Days,” the seminal work from Brooklyn photographer Jamel Shabazz — and merchandise, including shirts, pins and tote bags that are made in house.
Most excitingly, they are processing film and making prints, a service that, especially in Bushwick, is in high demand. “The first week, we had 500 people drop off film,” Lewis said. Since there are only two people doing the processing in house, they have begun to use a lab in Pennsylvania to handle some of the more complicated processing jobs they wouldn’t be able to address in a timely manner. “As we grow, I can see us doing everything in house,” he said.
The next moves for the store are to expand on what they can do with the space. Lewis wants to stage some exhibitions from local photographers, as well as get involved with more community programs. On October 25, the store is hosting a community clean-up walk along Broadway from Bushwick to Williamsburg, and they recently launched a grant program for aspiring photographers.
Lewis, a photographer whose excellent images documenting life in Brooklyn can be found on his Instagram account, wants the store to ultimately be more than a place for commerce. He wants it to be a space for conversation, a creative hub. “I love seeing the culture that comes through here,” he said of the people who have been showing up to the store so far, including young teenagers. “They see a lot of other people taking pictures and say, ‘I can do this too.’ More power to them because they can. They are keeping the format alive.”
[Photos by Craig Hubert]
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