I bought this book by Charles Denson years ago. I think I purchased it from a local butcher store.
One morning I set out with my signed copy of the book and my camera to take photos of Coney Island the way it was at that time and compare the area to the photos in the book.
As I was shooting some abandoned, boarded up buildings, I was approached by the local, corner drug dealers. Just a few hostile looking teens who didn't at all look happy to see me with a camera.
One teen asked me what I was doing. I showed him my book and told him I was trying to document CI the way it looked today. He told me he didn't want his picture taken. I told him I was interested in the buildings, not him. He wasn't at all photogenic, anyway, and neither were his friends.
Our chat drew the attention of their girlfriends who were getting their nails done at the nail salon on the next block. They sauntered over and wanted to know what we were talking about. So I showed them my book and pointed out some of the more impressive photos. They didn't look a bit impressed. I guess they weren't photography buffs. I was very impressed by their nails, though. They looked stunning. I was quite envious, I couldn't afford to get my nails done at that time.
Well, all the commotion started to draw a crowd. People started coming from everyone. Pretty soon, the whole crowd was looking at my book. I asked some of the people if they'd lived there long enough to remember any of the buildings in the book that had been knocked down. One hustler said he did but he wasn't convincing. I think he was lying.
The huge crowd started to make me nervous so I made a polite exit. As polite as I could manage, anyway. I told everyone I was going in search of more buildings to photograph.
For weeks after that, I avoided that corner at all hours. I didn't want the dealers to think I was an undercover who was staking them out. I wasn't sure what they thought but I wanted to be careful.
I started waking up earlier to get the shots that I wanted. And I got my nails done.
You know, you really can't avoid trouble when you live in New York City.