Hi, I’m Hazel Hankin. A native New Yorker, I lived in Brooklyn most of my life and now live in Jackson Heights, Queens.
I’ve enjoyed a long career in photography and teaching. While pursuing my personal work, which includes elements of fine art, documentary and street photography, I made a living as a freelance photographer shooting events and doing assignment work for publishers and organizations such as the Ford Foundation. I’ve also taught photography at the City College of New York (CCNY) for many years.
The energy and diversity of city life inspire me to photograph. I’m fascinated by people and how they interact with each other and their environment and I’m attracted to interesting light, graphic patterns, and unexpected juxtapositions.
A long-term project of mine about social dancing comes out of my own participation in NYC’s Swing and Latin dance scenes. In images of salsa, swing and tango I’ve tried to express what it’s like to be immersed in the energy of the dance floor while simultaneously engaged in intimate communication with a partner.
Whether it’s dance photography or street photography, to capture a peak instant in the midst of motion and flux is a challenge… when it works, it’s a thrill.
I started photographing as a college art student in the 1970s and haven’t stopped since.
Mostly in NYC, plus other parts of the US and the world.
In the 70s and 80s I shot street portraits and scenes of urban life and culture in NYC, including an extended exploration of Coney Island.
In the 90s I worked regularly in Cuba. In addition to street photographs, projects there included a series on the architecture and design of Cuba’s National Art Schools, a photo essay on Havana’s Barrio Chino and coverage of Muhammad Ali’s five-day humanitarian aid tour of Havana, which culminated in a meeting with Fidel Castro.
I’m currently shooting a street photography series in my own neighborhood of Jackson Heights. I still photograph in Coney Island when I can and I’ve been working on my archives… editing, organizing, scanning and making image files of photos that were shot on film.
It’s that tantalizing possibility that I might capture a magical moment in a split second when skill and intentionality combine perfectly with intuition and serendipity, and all the elements – framing, light, subject details – come together just so. Because you never know exactly how a picture is going to look until after it’s shot, there’s always a surprise element too. That keeps me hooked, even after all this time.