When photographers Alessandro Cosmelli and Gaia Light moved to Brooklyn from Italy in 2007, they quickly learned the best way to get to know their newly adopted city was to explore it by the Metro Transit bus.
For hours, they explored neighborhoods around Brooklyn—peering through the bus windows into a world that often goes unseen by visitors and even some longtime residents of New York, who have come to think of the borough as nothing more than a haven for hipsters. What they found were neighborhoods filled with diversity and vibrancy, streets that told the success of and struggle toward the American dream.
“What we saw was the soul of the city,” Cosmelli said.
Their explorations soon turned into a project called “Brooklyn Buzz,” where the two spent several hours a day riding buses through Brooklyn and photographing through the windows what they saw.
Cosmelli said he and Light had no game plan for where they went. Each photographer just picked a bus “randomly” and rode it for hours, transferring to different lines throughout the day. They did this nearly every day for five months during the spring and summer of 2010, meeting at night to review the images they had taken.
The result is a body of photographs that not only captures a city in transformation but also reveals how little New York has changed—from elements of architecture to the simple scenes of everyday life, including children playing on their front stoops and pedestrians in the midst of their daily tasks.
“We wanted to try and fix an image of a city that was changing so fast, to get a portrait of the city,” Cosmelli said. “But the surprising part is some things hadn’t changed.”
As a result, there’s a timeless quality about the photos, which were compiled in a book called “Brooklyn Buzz"—a finalist for the Picture of the Year International’s best photography book in 2013—and a short film, which presents the photos against a natural soundtrack, from the sound of the drivers to the chatter of passengers.
“We wanted to add another dimension to the photos to try and reproduce the atmosphere of what you would feel like riding the bus and seeing this part of the city,” Cosmelli said. “We just wanted to get beyond the stereotype of what people think Brooklyn is and show the true soul of the city.”