Yesterday I attended the encore Snapshot! event at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum at 97 Orchard Street in New York City.
The first time I went to the museum was a few years ago to research an immigrant novel I was writing. Photos were not allowed, so I took copious notes about the dim hallways, the pressed metal ceilings, the coin-operated gas meters.
Then last July I attended Snapshot!–an event sponsored by the museum, inviting photographers to spend an hour inside the apartments.
A photographer’s dream, most assuredly, but also a writer’s dream. While I shelved the novel, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to make a photographic record of the immigrant home. I took hundreds of photos, but I really wanted to see the Confino apartment, the home of a Sephardic family from Turkey.
In yesterday’s encore event, that apartment was made available for photos and I spent the bulk of my hour there. The jar of chickpeas on the mantel, the mousetrap with four entry doors and a decapitator, the coin-operated gas meter.
While the photographers who participated can upload their photos to the museum’s Flickr site, we cannot commercially use our photos. But that’s okay. If I ever return to that immigrant novel, I’ve got my interior setting, even for an apartment-based sweat shop.
Question for you: How has photography helped your writing?