Ditmas Park’s favorite online photo gallery is back — but you can only get it if you pay for it in old-school book form, thanks to AOL.
Photographer Nelson Ryland’s new coffee-table book catalogues hundreds of photos of his favorite neighborhood that were featured on the Ditmas Park Blog — but it took some bean-counting lawyers to get the photos off the web an into book form.
Ryland compiled the images in his new book, ditmaspark_365, during his two-and-a-half years as photo editor of the blog. But when AOL bought the website to make it part of it’s Patch network of local sites, things got a little ugly.
Ryland said he was asked to sign a contract that shared the rights to every photograph previously published on the website — a move that would allow the blogs owners to use the photos in any way they saw fit.
That didn’t sit well with the photo editor, who feared for how his work would be end up being displayed once AOL took over.
“I didn’t know if my photographs were going to end up on billboards in Lithuania,” said Ryland.
So Ryland refused to sign away the photographs, and as a result, the pictures, which were often used in the site’s “photo of the day” feature, were taken down, crushing Ryland, who considered the work a labor of love.
“It was very sad.” said Ryland, who had worked for free as the blog’s photo editor.
So Ryland made lemonade out of lemons.
The self-published book features more than 260 photos from 35 photographers, that capture the beauty of the neighborhood: a man skiing amongst the snow-covered Victorian houses, wisteria blooming over a graffiti-laden subway station, an old-man sitting on an Ocean Avenue bench — and it’s about time, given the number of artists in the community.
“SoHo isn’t the only place in the city where art is created,” said a Ditmas Park lawyer who photographs under the pseudonym Rufus Mangrove.
Mangrove’s photos, like one of an old man in bubble sunglasses in front of a pyramid of mannequin legs, capture a dark and comical side to the neighborhood that those who don’t live there rarely get to see — until now.
“Out of the 50 I asked only one photographer said, ‘No,’” said Ryland. “Everyone is really excited.”
The book “ditmaspark_365” is available to order at www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2811169. For hardcover, $75; for softcover, $55.
Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow his Tweets at @from_where_isit.