Jessica Bal

Jessica Bal, a contributing photographer with Narratively, hails from a two-stoplight town in Massachusetts and now resides in a city with too many lights to count, where she produces media for an arts education organization and looks for any excuse to write, photograph and film stories that she’s curious about.

Stories By Jessica Bal

Attention Legislators: Gender Transitions Are Not One-Size-Fits-All

New York State’s new law requiring coverage of gender reassignment surgery sounded like a game changer. The problem: not all trans people want the same thing.

An NYC Rap Icon’s Latest Hustle: Hip-Hop Coordinator…At the Library

In the ’80s, Ralph McDaniels helped young rappers like Notorious B.I.G. and Jay Z make their names. Today he’s teaching hip-hop history to a new generation of youth.

Secret Life of a Seven-Year-Old Instagram Star

Haileigh Vasquez has 129,000 followers and a runway show at New York Fashion Week—that is, if her second-grade teacher lets her out of class on time.

Life and Death on the Avocado Trail

A Mexican-American cook routinely travels 2,000 miles, driving through a drug war and slipping past kidnappers’ fingers, all for a decent mole poblano for her New York customers.

One Woman’s Impossible Mission to Save New York’s Garment District

Samantha Cortes had a dream: to revive clothing manufacturing in Midtown Manhattan. Rapidly gentrifying NYC had other plans.

Gay and Gutsy on the Rugby Field

Years before gay players broke down barriers in the NBA and NFL, a squadron of New Yorkers demanded acceptance in the most rough-and-tumble sport of all.

Keeping New York Weird

Meet two comedic punks who’ve drank out of douches, eaten raw meat from a piñata and even repeatedly sat through the movie “Showgirls”—all in the name of comedy. Is there...

Dear Dusty Old Bookstore

Manhattan was once a wonderland for lovers of literature.  What happened?

The Rat Hunters of New York

The city that never sleeps is home to untold millions of four-legged vermin. Richard Reynolds and his band of bloodthirsty terriers are determined to sniff them out one-by-one.