Personal Project; Hudson’s Heritage; Ted Kawalerski’s Hudson River Project

When I began this project—what has since evolved into something much more than I originally imagined—it was a hobby. I moved to Sleepy Hollow, New York, about 25 years ago and I became intrigued by the river. It was new. And I didn’t know much about the Hudson River or the communities and people who grew up alongside it.

It wasn’t a flash of inspiration about future gallery showings or book deals that started me down this path. It was a hobby, pure and simple; something I could work on between commercial assignments. I knew there had been a lot of work already done about the Hudson River, but I wanted to look at it differently. The coastline of the river is a tapestry of natural and manmade forms—from age-old forests and lakes to industrial facilities and power lines. But I wanted to show what the people who lived along the banks of the river saw.

Bride—Halloween Parade, Tarrytown, New York.
All Photos © 2008, Ted Kawalerski, All Rights Reserved

I decided from the very beginning to shoot in black and white. With my Nikon F3 and Tri-X film in hand, I traveled up and down the river. The diversity of the environment gave me the opportunity to get involved with the people—young and old, male and female—and the much varied landscape in which they lived and worked.


Over the course of the next 10 years, I’d go out to shoot when I had the time, making 8x12” exhibition-quality prints on Ilford’s Multigrade paper in the darkroom in my house as I went along. But it wasn’t until about eight years ago that I decided to pursue this project more seriously.

I transitioned to digital in both my personal and commercial work about two years later and found digital to be so much easier to work with. I began with a Canon EOS-1D Mark II and have since upgraded to the Canon EOS-1D Mark III. Besides not having to deal with the darkroom chemicals, there are so many advantages to a digital workflow. Adobe’s Photoshop has allowed me to make fine adjustments in these photos, especially in the image densities, that would have been impossible in the darkroom.

Lake Tear of the Clouds.

Randy King in Verplanck, New York.

Liesl, educator at the Beacon Institute, Beacon, New York.