White Plains Photographer Highlights The People Of Port Chester

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Shayok Mukhopadhyay's new exhibit "People of Port Chester" will be on display from Dec. 7 to Jan. 4 Photo Credit: Courtesy of Shayok Mukhopadhyay
Shayok Mukhopadhyay's portrait of Elda Sanchez of Port Chester, who works at a local album factory and recently became a U.S. citizen. Photo Credit: Shayok Mukhopadhyay

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Photographer Shayok Mukhopadhyay wanted his new exhibit "People of Port Chester" to shine a light on the men and women of the village and present a side that those outside the community may not see.

The black-and-white photography exhibit will be open on Saturday, Dec. 7 in two locations: at the Village Laundromat at 37 North Main St. and at Miranda Arts Project Space at 6 North Pearl St. Mukhopadhyay said the laundromat was chosen because he thought it would make the work more accessible to the community.

"A lot of my subjects are not the type of people to go to an art gallery. I wanted to find a place where they could go and feel more comfortable," he said.

The project started when Mukhopadhyay saw a man outside wearing a Statue of Liberty costume to advertise his tax business.

"A lot of the time people doing that sort of work are not happy to be doing it, and won't welcome being photographed. But because he was advertising his own business, he was happy and proud to be doing what he was doing," Mukhopadhyay said.

After the man readily agreed to be photographed along with his son, Mukhopadhyay decided to continue taking portraits of members of the community. His subjects include business owners, day laborers and employees of beer stores, food pantries and factories. He wants the people who visit his exhibit to see another side of the community that they might not normally get a chance to see.

"I'm hoping that they will see these people as individuals. Not just someone who comes and mows their lawn or serves them food, but people with dignity and humanity, and it will give them insight into the community and how people of a different status in society function."

Mukhopadhyay, who lives in White Plains and studied at the International Center of Photography in New York, works with an old-fashioned 4x5 view camera, using technology that has not changed since the invention of photography. Instead of using a digital camera to take pictures without his subjects even knowing, he said this technique requires him to get up close and work with them.

"You have to involve your subject, you have to make your subject become part of the project," he said. "Because it's more difficult, more involved, more expensive, it filters out the bad photos before they're taken. You're only taking photos that you want to take, and that your subject wants taken."

The exhibit will run until Jan. 4. Village Laundromat is open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Miranda Arts Project Space is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., and by appointment only from Dec. 22 to Jan. 1.

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