Leica Store Bellevue is honored to present, "Rescue 2: Before The Call", an intimate photo essay by Romeo Okwara of the firemen from the acclaimed Rescue Company 2 Firehouse in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Please join us for this special moment as we start the exhibition with an opening reception on Sunday, February 23 at 1 PM. 

"I want to capture what it means to be part of Rescue 2, from the ground up with the building filled with incredible character and soul, past and present.”

From the moment Romeo entered Rescue 2, he felt at home with the all-too-familiar locker room atmosphere as a professional athlete. His photography shows a sensitive but realistic view of the daily lives and stress of firemen waiting for The Call.

Opening Reception February 23 | 1 PM - 3 PM | RSVP
The event is complimentary and open to the public. Registration is required.

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The Beginning

"In the fall of 2017, I was invited by Jason Brezler, a member at Rescue 2 firehouse in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn to visit the firehouse. Not knowing what to expect I showed up to a humble red brick building in the middle of Brooklyn with a Leica M camera dangling from my neck. The first thing I noticed when entering the building was the history. It was nailed into the doors and walls of the building addressed 1472 Bergen St., a structure that had been there since 1921. From the ground up, the building was filled with incredible character and soul, past and present. There were pictures of members, gifts and memorabilia scattered throughout the building like some sort of hundred year old members only club. I was welcomed with open arms and got the sense that I was joining a special camaraderie. The space had a locker room feel that I was used to and within a few minutes the guys were cracking jokes at themselves, each other, and even me. It reminded me of the NFL locker room environment. Different personalities from different backgrounds all working together to achieve a common goal. 

There was something special about this place, but couldn’t put my finger on it. As time went on I realized I was receiving a history lesson and was filled with awe and gratitude at being in the presence of these modern-day superheroes we call firefighters. They are always ready for the call and ready to perform at the highest level no matter what. When it was time to leave I thanked them for an amazing afternoon and went on my way home. But, I couldn’t stop thinking about the men of Rescue 2. It was then that I came up with the idea of documenting their firehouse, focusing on the moments before the call. I feel we take for granted the incredible work firefighters do for this country and I wanted their story to be seen. I sent a letter to Jason expressing my feelings from the visit and ask for permission to take pictures at Rescue 2. My aim was to capture what it meant to be a part of Rescue 2 through the times they’ve fought, laughed, wept, bled and celebrated with each other. They were thrilled with the idea of me documenting them. That was the beginning of an experience I will never forget."

Romeo Okwara
August 2019

About Romeo

Romeo Chidozie Okwara is an American football defensive end for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). Prior to starting his NFL career, he played college football at University of Notre Dame and signed with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2016. 

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Instagram: @samoromeo
Twitter: @RomeoND45
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Rescue 2: Before The Call by Romeo Okwara

02/23/2020 - 02/23/2020