Documenting Sandy: Photographer Highlight — Robin Michals

Our Documenting Sandy exhibition is up in our 3rd floor gallery, featuring photographs by professionals and amateurs during the devastating aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.  This is the third installment of our photographer highlight series. In it, we tell you more about the photographers who contributed to the exhibition.

Robin Michals is a professional photographer who has been chronicling views of the de-industrialization of the waterfront in New York City.  For several years she has also been working on the series Castles Made of Sand that illustrates the locations around New York City that will be affected by sea level rise.  While she was not personally affected by Superstorm Sandy, the areas of New York City that her work chronicled were.  For example, the series Toxi City: Brooklyn’s Brownfields focused the New York City waterfront and how it is affected by the industrial past.  It was exhibited at the Brooklyn Lyceum in 2009 and I was happy to see the show myself.  The photographs are beautiful while at the same time revealing the long-term effects of the toxic industrial practices that, up until recently, were rampant and uncontrolled.  Robin often visited the Brooklyn Historical Society Library to research a location before or after shooting it by looking at our maps and atlases. Sometimes she would research the companies that resided upon these properties.



Following the storm, Robin was able to re-photograph waterfront areas of Brooklyn to chronicle the changes that Superstorm Sandy had wrought.  The storm intensified her commitment to documenting the waterfront and other low-lying areas affected by sea level rise and will likely turn into a larger series of work.

Robin also uses the collections at Brooklyn Historical Society as a teacher.  As a professor of photography at New York City College of Technology (City Tech) just across Cadman Park from us, she incorporates our archival collections into the curriculum of her photography classes. One of her teaching exercises will be featured on, a great new teaching resource that BHS is launching in February.

Our call for submissions for Superstorm Sandy materials remains active. We are not only collecting photographs, but artifacts, ephemera, and other documentation of this storm and its effect on the residents of Brooklyn.  You can email our Collection Staff to discuss further.

About Julie May

I am the Director of Library & Archives at Brooklyn Historical Society.
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