How a long-term Ridgewood photography studio became the official videographer of the shelter wars

Photo courtesy of Harisch Studios

When the explosive Oct. 7 hearing over the proposed Glendale homeless shelter forced Community Board 5 into the center of the conflict, Ridgewood videographer Mark Moss found himself in the opposite position. 

He was tasked with the problem of how to best stay on the sidelines. 

The community board hired Moss, the president of Ridgewood photography business Harisch Studios, to live stream all of the board’s public meetings and hearings for the next year as a continued effort to make community board activities more transparent and accessible.

District Manager Gary Giordano said that CB5 decided to take the plunge into video steaming starting this past September after the City Council gave all 59 of the city’s community boards an additional $42,500 of funding for the second year in a row. 

This new investment in video technology came right at the moment the community board weighed what is arguably one of the biggest decisions to come through the district in years.

“Part of the challenge at a meeting like that one becomes chronicling it without appearing to be biased in either direction,” Moss said. “So I tried to steer away from showing confrontations. I tried to steer away from using the stream to give one side a benefit over another.”

Moss found himself directing live streams after years of running Harisch Studios, a Myrtle Avenue-based photo and video company that has been operating in the area since 1927. Moss took over the business from his wife’s family, who has worked there since the ’50s. He works with both his mother-in-law and his daughter.

He may run a family operation, but that doesn’t mean his model is traditional. Moss guides the business based on changes in technology. He’s seen other mom and pop stores in Ridgewood struggle to keep up with area’s changes, but he says riding the waves of technology has helped him stay afloat.

“The biggest challenge isn’t the changing neighborhood. The biggest challenge is the changing mindset that they don’t need professional photographers anymore,” said Moss. “Part of it is that we’ve evolved as well. The technology has changed, but it’s provided up with opportunities that didn’t exist either. 

In addition to filming the community board, Harisch Studios live streams video for weddings, funerals, school events and masses.

In 2018, the city’s Charter Revision Committee came up with a list of recommendations for community boards that include increased funding and efforts at maintaining public transparency. 

As a result several boards across the city have begun to invest in video services like those that Moss offers. He said he’d be open to take on more community board gigs, but as with any decision, it boils down to whether his small staff can handle.

“That’s the biggest challenge with any small family-run business. If you expand too quickly, you may start hiring people that don’t have the same concern about quality,” said Moss.

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