My work usually involves documenting long-term stories about communities outside of New York and abroad. As a photojournalist and human being, I felt responsible for witnessing historic moments, such as the manufacturing of face shields by volunteers or how people were exercising outdoors when gyms closed. As I adjusted to the quietude and travel restrictions, I started to explore my local environment. One summer evening, I took the train to Coney Island, a place that always brings me back to my childhood in Brooklyn. I took my Fujifilm X-Pro3 and the Fujifilm XF50mmF2 lens.

The Scene

The scene at the beach was a respite for the heaviness I’d felt for the past six months. Families were packing up their belongings, running into the water, and searching for precious metals with their metal detectors. Others were just enjoying the last few hours of light. I made photos that were focused on the colors of the natural environment, photographing people whose garments matched the blues of the ocean and other likenesses of nature.

As the sun was setting, pink and blue skies began to form. I noticed a man walking by selling cotton candy to passersby. It was the perfect medley of moments and colors. I used the Fujifilm XF50mmF2 lens to document this moment and to show people leaving the water and packing up—the last moments of their day at the beach. The lens allowed me to be close enough to the cotton candy seller while allowing other scenes to be in the frame.

A man sells cotton candy on Coney Island’s beach in Brooklyn, New York on August 24, 2020. Photo by Bess Adler.

Moments later, it started raining. The beach cleared even more and I felt lucky to have witnessed the brief beauty around me. Now that the pandemic is easing up, time seems more scarce and crowds more plentiful. When I look at this image, I remember the hardships but also the quiet nature of my city that I’m not sure I will see again in my lifetime.

The mix of the mid-telephoto Fujifilm XF50mmF2 lens and lightweight Fujifilm X-Pro3 camera helped me remain present but unobtrusive. The setup matched the quiet nature of my surroundings and I appreciated the challenge of bringing only one lens. It helped me to focus on making photographs, rather than focusing on gear. At the same time, the gear helped to elevate my eye.