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The year is 1888. Jacob Riis, who took the original photograph was a newspaperman, who used both his pen and the camera lens to expose the upper class to the plight of New York City’s huddled masses. He could often be found in the most deteriorated and dangerous slums in the city – particularly Mulberry Street. This photo, “Bandits Roost” was taken at 59 1/2 Mulberry.
Jacob, and his dedication to social reform, left an indelible impression on Theodore Roosevelt. The two became lifelong friends. I took liberties with Bandits Roost, adding a sunrise not in the original image. For my own tastes, the lighting and color really drive home the harshness of this alley. Jacob Riis was a very brave man to take the photo – and fortunate to live to talk about it.
Like Thomas Kincaid, one of my favorite parts of colorizing, is working with light. As you can see, I’ve taken artistic liberties by working-in a sunrise for dramatic effect.