A local photographer on Staten Island focuses her lens on her neighbors --nurses, factory workers, students, retirees, and young families-- all blue-collar workers just like herself. The result of Olga Ginzburg's work is a rich portrait of a borough many of us don't know enough about.
Olga went to high school on Staten Island and moved to Manhattan to study and work before returning home to the New Dorm Beach neighborhood six years ago.
She didn't intend to stay but found herself thoroughly intrigued by the people around her.
They come alive in front of her lens. The borough in all of its beautiful diversity is represented in her photographs.
"The camera is a tool for connection," Olga said.
Growing up on Staten Island, Olga couldn't wait to get away but she had a change of heart after returning to the borough.
"It feels very special," Olga said. "It feels like I am part of this community."
Eyewitness News Entertainment Reporter Sandy Kenyon met Olga at the Alice Austen House in the Rosebank section of Staten Island. An appropriate spot because its where a pioneering photographer worked more than 100 years ago.
Olga photographed her friend Brittany Heimerle. She is a frequent subject, but most of Olga's images are made during random encounters with strangers.
"I approach someone or they approach me or we fall into a conversation, and it's very specific to that moment and my time with that person in that moment," Olga said. "So I try to honor that and also see them in a larger context and a larger environment."
A context to her art that's very specific to her background.
"A place that once was so banal to my young eyes is now just really interesting and teaming with meaning," Olga said.
But Olga doesn't confine her work just to Staten Island.
She often heads to Manhattan on assignment for the New York Post and the New York Times.
"I'm just forever learning from others," Olga said. "I want to know how others exist in the world."
Even her work for hire demonstrates her unique vision, but this photographer's personal work remains her favorite.
"There's something about going out and having that exchange with someone that didn't expect to meet you that day, doesn't normally have their photograph taken," Olga said. "There's something really special about that."
There's a sense of wonder and even magic to her chance encounters, and Olga said her goal is to show New Yorkers all that State Island has to offer.
Olga's professional and artistic photography can be found on her website.
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