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A stunning photography book about the abandoned factory, its history, and the surreal interior during its final days standing.
A stunning photography book about the abandoned factory, its history, and the surreal interior during its final days standing.
475 backers pledged $36,849 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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    • العربية
    • English

$36,849

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I’m making a photography book about the Domino Sugar Refinery. This Brooklyn icon was the biggest sugar factory in the world for much of the last 150 years. I was the last photographer given access to this mind-blowing place before its demolition.* 

Late 2013, before they started tearing it down
Late 2013, before they started tearing it down

My photographs will be at the core of the book, along with vintage photos from the Library of Congress and the Brooklyn Historical Society. There will be a historical essay that brings to life sugar's role in Brooklyn’s economy and immigrant culture, and in Caribbean slavery and indentured servitude. I’ve also written a personal essay on ruins in contemporary visual culture, and why we're so drawn to them. And there will be stories from former Domino workers I’ve met along the way. 

I’m interested in the stories behind the pictures, and also in the visual thrill—their dense, almost overwhelming tangle of lines and textures. Domino offered more detail and more chaos than any other landscape I’ve visited. I’ve accepted the challenge by letting as much into the frame as possible, while still trying to hold together a coherent picture.

The Front Room Gallery (near the Domino site) has offered to mount an exhibition of prints, to coincide with the launch of the book.

Updated July 15: As a thank-you for our incredible success, we're giving downloads of free PC wallpaper to backers at every level. We'll be adding more images over the next few days.

Where the Money Goes

Updated July 2: we’ve zoomed past our first milestone, the $7400 Kickstarter goal! This means we have what we need to design the book, including editing, writing, research, historical images, and graphic design for the cover and content. I’ve completed the photography, which I paid for out-of-pocket.

For our stretch goal of $36,000 we’re working toward the publication costs. Art book publishers expect authors to cover a portion of the printing costs, with cash and pre-sales. If we can raise this money on Kickstarter, we’ll be able to get straight to work on courting publishers, without having to worry about applying for grants.   

Funding beyond this will go toward increasing the size and quality of the book, and toward mounting the exhibition.

Available Prints

Some of the rewards include prints. You can choose from the following images. Details in the Rewards section on the right.

click to see larger versions on my site.
click to see larger versions on my site.

These prints are SPECTACULAR in person. Especially on the high quality baryta-coated paper and in the larger sizes. There is more detail than your eye can take in. Apologies in advance if you cut your fingers on the jagged, rusty iron. I'm kidding, but you'll see what I mean...

Meet the Team

I'm working with Stella Kramer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photography editor; and Matthew Postal, an architectural historian, professor, and staff member of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Matthew wrote the original preservation report on Domino, which played a part in protecting the main refinery building from demolition.

Thank you to everyone at Two Trees for giving us access and making the project possible.

Please Join Us!

With your contribution you can be a vital part of our project. And you can own a copy of the book, or a haunting photographic print of Domino from before its demolition. 

Please follow us here and on our Facebook page for updates!

Packaging House Lockers
Packaging House Lockers
On the catwalks. 3-Story-High Vacuum Pan Room
On the catwalks. 3-Story-High Vacuum Pan Room
Bone Char Filter Tanks
Bone Char Filter Tanks
Raw Sugar Warehouse
Raw Sugar Warehouse
1880s, newly rebuilt after fire. Brooklyn Museum Archives.
1880s, newly rebuilt after fire. Brooklyn Museum Archives.
Our book will be a healthy part of your day.
Our book will be a healthy part of your day.

See More 

More Domino photos, on my site

Our project page on Facebook. Please like!

*The facade of the main refinery building, comprising the Filter House, Pan House and Finishing house, will be preserved. The interior will be gutted and replaced with commercial architecture. All 11 other buildings at the site have been demolished.

Risks and challenges

After funding, our biggest challenge will be striking a deal with a publisher. We think this project appeals to enough varied groups of people that publishers will want to bet on it. But the art book world is competitive.

If we can't interest our top-tier choices, like Daylight Books and Kehrer Verlag, we will approach university architectural presses. If we get nowhere with that, we will self-publish. This is our last choice because it's more expensive, and because there's no automatic access to distribution.

But one way or another we'll make sure that a book gets made.

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    A signed 4x6" thank-you postcard, with a picture from the project.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    A signed 8.5" x 11" print from the project, printed on standard glossy paper, plus a signed 4x6" thank-you postcard, with a picture from the project.

    I'll thank you by name on the project's Facebook page.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    A signed copy of the book, a signed 8.5" x 11" print from the project, printed on standard glossy paper, plus a signed 4x6" thank-you postcard, with a picture from the project.

    I'll thank you by name on the project's Facebook page.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $120 or more About $120

    2 Books! One for you, one for a friend.

    Two signed copies of the book, two signed 8.5" x 11" prints from the project, printed on standard glossy paper, plus a signed 4x6" thank-you postcard, with a picture from the project.

    I'll thank you by name on the project's Facebook page.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    A signed copy of the book, plus a signed 8.5 x 11" print from the project, printed on the highest quality baryta-coated European paper. Your choice from among seven images*. Plus, a signed 4x6" thank-you postcard, with a picture from the project. I will thank you by name on the acknowledgements page of the book.

    I'll thank you by name in the printed book's acknowledgements, and on the project's Facebook page.

    *see Available Prints, on the left

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $350 or more About $350

    5 Books!

    Five signed copies of the book, five signed 8.5" x 11" prints from the project, printed on standard glossy paper, plus a signed 4x6" thank-you postcard, with a picture from the project.

    Special thanks by name on the project's Facebook page.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    A signed copy of the book, plus a signed 16 x 24" print from the project, printed on the highest quality baryta-coated European paper. ***THESE PRINTS ARE INCREDIBLE!*** Your choice from among seven images*. Plus, a signed 4x6" thank-you postcard, with a picture from the project. Print will be packaged rolled in a large poster tube to prevent damage. Book will be packaged separately.

    Special thanks by name in the printed book's acknowledgements, and on the project's Facebook page.

    *see Available Prints, on the left

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    A signed copy of the book, plus three signed 16 x 24" prints from the project, printed on the highest quality baryta-coated European paper. ***THESE PRINTS ARE INCREDIBLE!*** Your choice from among seven images*. Plus, a signed 4x6" thank-you postcard, with a picture from the project. Prints will be packaged rolled in a large poster tube, separated by tissue, to prevent damage.

    You will be named a Benefactor in the printed book's acknowledgements and on the project's Facebook page.

    *see Available Prints, on the left

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    A signed, stunning 30" x 40" print from the project, plus an Industrial Heritage tour of Brooklyn, with the photographer and with architectural historian Matthew Postal. Tour extends from Greenpoint to Red Hook, ending at a bar by the river.

    The print is on the highest quality baryta-coated European paper, and mounted to aluminum dibond. ***THESE PRINTS ARE INCREDIBLE!*** And they are limited to an edition of 10; no more will ever be made in this size. Your choice from among seven images*.

    Plus, a signed copy of the book, and a signed 4x6" thank-you postcard, with a picture from the project.

    Print will be crated and shipped by ground. If you can pick up the print in New York City, shipping charges will be waived.

    You will be named a Benefactor in the printed book's acknowledgements and on the project's Facebook page.

    *see Available Prints, on the left

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Funding period

- (34 days)