Before the days when a single season of an American reality television series could immortalize a cultural landscape (for better or for worse, as in MTV’s Jersey Shore), snapshots of society were left in the hands of photographers like Joe Maloney, who spent his weekends in the 1970s and ’80s capturing a seaside resort town of the Jersey Shore. “I didn’t really fit into the Hamptons,” Maloney said. “I was driving around in a Pinto at the time, and everyone else was driving a BMW. I wanted to do something different, and I started going down to Asbury Park because it was a funky kind of place. It wasn’t a ‘beach boy’ beach town; it was a ‘greaser’ beach town.”
After a 20-year hiatus—Maloney stopped taking pictures in the ’90s when discouraged by the expense and poor longevity of his materials—his negatives have been resurrected and digitally scanned. And the working-class beachgoers are reincarnate with a richness that surpasses the then-brilliance of his saturated, dye transfer color prints. A recent exhibition, “Asbury Park & the Jersey Shore, c. 1979” captures a pre-Sandy coast complete with ferris wheels, miniature golf, early haunts of Bruce Springsteen, and a portrait of photographer Victor Shrager lounging in a motel room, in the company of Rembrandt’s Man in Golden Helmet—all images that, until now, had been forgotten.