Droning with Tom: He Goes It Alone

I was in Philadelphia. Tom had the day off. The sun was out for once. Naturally, he packed the drone up, got on his Cannondale bike and went around without me.

From south Brooklyn, to Long Island City, to Williamsburg and back, that’s a conservative 23 mile trek. Knowing Tom and his habit of winding his way down streets bikes really shouldn’t go, he probably clocked in a lot more. What he was able to capture, though, was beyond worth it.

We present–Tom’s droning tour!

The mural above is by the photographer JR, who the Brooklyn Museum is currently celebrating with an expansive exhibit until May 3. JR started as a graffiti street artist, pasting his large format photographs of everyday people all over Paris. His work developed into social advocacy when he began to focus on people who have been marginalized, often pushed out to cities’ fringes. As part of the Museum’s exhibit, he has created three murals in Brooklyn. Above is situated on a tower of shipping containers on the grounds of the Domino Sugar Refinery complex under construction now. The two others are on the Kings Theater on Flatbush Avenue and the Brooklyn Academy of Global Finance high school in Bedford Stuyvesant. Each work of art is comprised of individual photographs of New York City people either posed or going about their day and which is then combined into one enormous mural.

What I love about these particular set of photographs is that they show the drone’s capacity to capture the beauty of the living landscape. It also allows Tom to frame the photos against an expansive background which helps to magnify, and put into a unique context, the foreground.

And, much as what JR is doing in his work, Tom’s photos reveal neighborhoods undergoing vast changes that too often involve pushing poorer people out of their long established neighborhoods. Each of the Domino Sugar Refinery’s five resident buildings will have apartments set aside for lower-income people (top yearly salary $45,000 for family of four). In one, with a total of 522 apartments, 104 have been set aside. 87,000 people applied.

See more of Tom’s photographs in this series on his Instagram Account