Cruising through eight ethnic pockets in Queens on an elevated line, the 7 Train, fondly known as ‘The International Express’ provides an overview of what and who truly make NYC the melting pot it is -- immigrants. With a dense neighborhood of Asians in Flushing, South Asians in Jackson Heights, Latin-Americans in Corona, Koreans and Filipinos in Woodside, this line allows one to get a glimpse into the culture and lifestyles of people who have moved across the world to be a part of the American Dream.
Photo by Shravya Kag. Sony α7 III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/320-sec., f/2.8, ISO 8000
Photo by Shravya Kag. Sony α7 III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/250-sec., f/2.8, ISO 5000
Photo by Shravya Kag. Sony α7 III. Sony 28mm f/2. 1/30-sec., f/2.2, ISO 320
As a grant winner in the Sony Alpha Female+ program, photographer Shravya Kag spent several weeks photographing life along the winding route that the 7 Train takes through New York. "The project aims to capture the locals in their emotional complexity and the neighborhoods in their vibrant resilience living in a pandemic," she says. "A Vietnamese woman starts a small business designing and selling wholesale masks to earn for the family after her husband lost his job at a hotel due to the pandemic. A Bangladeshi immigrant cab driver contemplates moving to a smaller town. A Nepali community leader and organizer donating PPE and groceries to the elderly, unemployed and international students, while expressing gratitude to his volunteers and the relief funds, laments the immense disruption the pandemic has brought about his personal life. A Bangladeshi migrant family loses their sole breadwinner and grapples with a cruel landlord, an excruciating bureaucratic immigration process and a government that 'only paid attention to those who lost jobs and not those who lost their main income-earner.' Providing a stark contrast to these stories in Queens, the 7 line zooms underground heading to Manhattan making its last stop at Hudson Yards, deemed to be the largest mixed-use private real estate in American History. A last stop-to-last stop journey on the line is a trip experiencing immigration, globalization and industrialization in a superlative sense."
Photo by Shravya Kag. Sony α7 III. Sony 28mm f/2. 1/200-sec., f/2, ISO 2500
Photo by Shravya Kag. Sony α7 III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/500-sec., f/2.8, ISO 8000
Photo by Shravya Kag. Sony α7 III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/250-sec., f/2.8, ISO 500
Photo by Shravya Kag. Sony α7 III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/30-sec., f/22, ISO 160
Photo by Shravya Kag. Sony α7 III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/2.8, ISO 100
Photographing eight ethnic pockets in the middle of a New York winter and amidst two snow storms was quite taxing, Shravya's biggest challenge came in post. She explains,"Culling over thousands of images to create a concise photo essay was the most challenging. I also wanted to showcase the vastly varying infrastructure from the last stop in Queens to the last stop in Manhattan as the 7 line zooms through the quickly gentrifying land of Long Island City before heading to Manhattan through a slideshow of images. The short video clips are snippets of daily life on the line."
Shravya's Alpha Female+ month-long grant is complete, but her quest to show life along the 7 line goes on. "I am looking to continue the project through spring to interview more locals and photograph the change of seasons in these neighborhoods thereby creating a more intricate story of The International Express."