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.