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Shots from the heart from our best photographer • Brooklyn Paper

Shots from the heart from our best photographer

This stand-alone shot was taken early one morning after a heavy snowfall. Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park didn’t have a single footprint in it, and the view of the Manhattan skyline was obscured by the moisture hanging in the air. “You can’t see a thing. It’s the bridge to nowhere, almost,” said Callan.
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

Our photographer Tom Callan has been shooting Brooklyn for longer than a mob henchman. And he’s got the scars to prove it. Whether getting beaten up by Mike Tyson in 1998 or by thugs at the notorious Club Wildfyre in the late 1980s, Callan has been getting in people’s faces for years.

“I read a little article about a German photographer hired to take a picture of all these cabs at the beach on Coney Island, so I went down there to see what I could get,” said Callan about this posed photograph of cabbies atop their vehicles. Frederic Brenner’s version of the shot is part of the collection at the Brooklyn Museum. Callan’s remains a permanent part of ours.
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

He’s quite simply the Avedon of community journalism.

Another rooftop shot, this one captured nearly by accident. Callan was trying to get a shot of a piece of bridge-side real estate when he spied a steel ladder. At the top was a view of the Brooklyn Bridge unlike any he’d ever seen. “You could see the curves of the road bed, the ups and downs. I’d never seen that angle.”
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

As such, we invited him to share with you his favorite photos and stories from his 25 years with The Brooklyn Paper.

Callan went to document the fireworks at Grand Army Plaza on New Year’s Eve and ended up with this incredibly framed view of one explosion above the street lights. “I didn’t realize that the fireworks would be visible through the arch, but it worked out pretty well.”
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

“I was in a helicopter,” Callan said.
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

In this dramatic photograph taken at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade it almost looks as though the fire eater is blowing a cloud into the sky. “I liked the contrast of the orange flame against the bright blue sky,” said Callan.
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

Callan captured the Brooklyn Heights promenade on a winter day in this stand-alone picture. “I was looking for a shot when a person came walking towards me out of nowhere. I liked how it looks like it’s a black-and-white picture, even though it’s in color.”
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

The photographer took this ethereal picture of a firefighter when the city was demolishing buildings to make way for Metrotech Center. Sid’s Hardware caught fire, and it was so smoky that Callan almost couldn’t see anything. Then the wind blew. “I was sitting at the foot of the fire truck and this guy just popped out of the smoke. He looked so serene, in his element. Then he disappeared like he was going into a cloud.”
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

Mike Tyson was kind and obliging when Callan encountered him at Gleason’s Gym on Front Street and took this shot. But he was a different man years later, in 1998. When Callan took his picture that time, Tyson lunged at him “like an animal,” and had to be restrained by four men. “He started yelling at me that he was going to kill me. After that I didn’t want to go back near that mutt. He’s a total lunatic.”
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

Callan caught this shot of Bertha Lewis, head of ACORN, embracing Mayor Bloomberg — an updated version of the famously repulsive Brezhnev-Honekcer kiss — in the courtroom Borough Hall after the passing of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement. “She was so happy she just went and planted one on his lips,” Callan said. “It happened so fast. I was the only one who got that shot.”
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

As always, Callan was in the right place when Brad Pitt was filming “Burn After Reading” on State Street. OK, so the location was just outside of his backyard, but Pitt was no easy mark. Though it looks like Pitt is merely waving to the shutterbug, he was actually raising a hand in protest. “He wasn’t happy. He said ‘Hey! I’m rolling, I’m rolling, here’ when I took the picture,” said Callan.
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

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