These are some images from the annual Tribute to the Anscestors of the Middle Passage, an annual event that takes place on the second Saturday in June in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Similar ceremonies take place around the globe from Africa to Brazil to South Carolina. The annual tribute is in remembrance of the tens of millions of Africans who, after being kidnapped from their homeland, died during the voyage across the Atlantic – the Middle Passage – and their bodies were plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, which was to become the largest African burial ground in the world.
The ceremonies involve singing, dancing, prayer, worship, and drumming all day long. At sunset, a procession moves to the ocean where offerings of flowers, rhum, honey, and fruit are made. It is a moving ceremony, and oftentimes, participants get so overcome by the spirit that they cry out and/or collapse to the ground. One woman was in the spirit for more than an hour!
Technical note: I shot this event using a Canon 20D with an 18-300mm zoom lens and, for the first time, a lensbaby. A lensbaby is a flexible, selective focus lens in which one area in the picture is in sharp focus where the the rest is in varying degrees of blur. You'll be able to spot those images easily. I learned it is a diffuclt task to use a lensbaby to photograph a live event involving movement, but still, I like the creatve effects it offers--just something different!
Enjoy the images and feel free to click on any image to enlarge.