Monochrome New York (Photo Book IV)
Color can tell very vivid stories but the omission of color in a photograph can force the viewer to look deeper into its meaning, appreciate its subtleties and even change the viewer’s perspective of the narrative. Monochrome New York (Photo Book IV) is a collection of black and white images taken by myself throughout New York City over a 10 year span (2007-2017). This photo book aims to showcase the beauty, energy and class of the various elements in New York City – minus the “bright lights”. Click images for descriptions.
I was a senior in high school when the Twin Towers fell. Now over 15 years later, the city never forgets.
There’s something SO New York about manhole covers, cobblestone streets and exposed railroad tracks (if you can find them).
Grand Central. “The Ghosts Among Us”
Salt water fishing on Coney Island Pier.
The emergence of the importance of cell phones since I picked up a camera has been fascinating to document. People will stop mid step, even while walking up the stairs in busy Grand Central, to get that last text, tweet or thought out.
Cell phone usage and an entire city of people keeping their eyes glued to their screens led to the emergence of a new type of street art. When I began seeing these messages I couldn’t understand why someone would want to put their message fueled art on the pavement. Who is going to see it? Then I realized something that these individuals seemed to pick up on early. Everyone will, because everyone is now walking with their head to the ground, looking at their phone. Brilliant.
The Brooklyn Bridge.
Even the trash in NYC makes a statement.
Times Square 42nd street is almost never this empty so I had to capture it when it was.
Coney Island, Brooklyn. When the announcement was made that Astroland in Coney Island would be demolished around 2008 I was crushed. I literally grew up in Astroland, spending every summer as a child riding the rides, eating hot dogs and candy, playing scoot ball with my Great Grandmother and getting to know the many faces that made the place run. Kids that I grew up with earned summer jobs maintaining the rides and eventually became operators that gave my friends and I free rides and tickets for prizes. Even as we all got older and figured we were getting “too big” for some of the attractions, we’d spend hours walking around the park and on the boardwalk during the spring and summer months. I had the best city/beach themed childhood and I would not trade that for any suburban upbringing. During its last weekend in operation, I grabbed my camera and set out to document the sights and sounds of my childhood. I was a new photography student who only shot manual black and white jps at my instructor’s request. I still have many of the images on some hard drive somewhere but this image says a lot and means a lot to me. It brings back fond memories of my Great Grandmother who would ride this water ride with me. We’d get soaked, knew every bump and turn and always put our hands up as the log cascaded down the final drop. When the park was demolished this ride and many other pieces of my childhood memories were taken down and replaced with shiny new rides and attractions and I honestly hate it. The Coney Island that stands now is not my authentic Coney Island. Gone are the mom and pop stores, neighborhood kids maintaining rides and smiling local faces at every turn. All replaced by glitzy surf and turf shops, chain restaurants and fancy rides run by out of towners. Nope, I don’t approve of the new Coney Island but at least I have the memories of when I did.
Streets are talking.
Eastside meets Westside on the Eastside.
Times Square. The show must go on. Even in 2016 after one of the largest blizzards in NYC history and as the news ticker reported about the guy with the orange hair claiming he can shoot someone in the street and still get elected president, we pressed forward.
While capturing the city over the past 10 years, the Black Lives Matter movement rose in response to the brutality of black lives at the hands of law enforcement. Artists of all realms choose to express their need to support the movement and spread its message anyway possible.
I always played outside as a child. It was what you did. “Going outside” was almost like a rights of passage, especially in the hood. We didn’t want to stay in the house! I don’t see many kids playing outside anymore but I do see a ton of “snow days” and school closures every winter thanks to the City. It seems like this is the rare time when kids remember to be kids and actually go outside to play. Maybe the City is onto something. (FACT: We didn’t have “snow days” when I was a kid. I clearly remember being taken to school during a blizzard and having the fire department come to rescue us kids from school because the weather was so bad outside. Schools remained open through it all.)
Streets are talking.
Gravesend Projects, Brooklyn. The rumors range from people losing their sneakers in basketball games to memorials for youth taken away from inner city neighborhoods too soon. I still, to this day, do not know what the official meaning for hanging sneakers in trees is but stroll through any public housing development (the Projects folks) in NYC and look up at the trees. You’re sure to see this strange fruit hanging.
Columbus Circle. The unions that provoke NYC job sites that hire non union labor are elaborate. You’ll often see the symbolic huge blow up rat sitting outside of a job site using non union workers but sometimes they add extra elements to their campaign. This site apparently has workers in a location where asbestos is present and, that according to Mr. Rat, can kill you.
Before cell phones were as popular as they are now, pay phones were the only way that one could make a phone call outside. Along with pay phones were these NYC Emergency Call Boxes. You’d pull the lever for fire or police, talk to the operator and the authorities would respond. There are still quite a few of them around the city and although many if not all of them no longer work (they did back in ’06-’07 when I worked for the NYPD as an emergency call taker) they are still a symbolic portrait of NYC history.
The South Street Seaport is a great place to spot some not so NYC things such as actual working ships.
When the Gay Marriage was made legal in 2011, couples flocked to city courts to do what many of us take for granted. Love is beautiful.
The Wedding Party.
Brooklyn. Street festivals during the Summer always bring out the best of NYC.
Brooklyn Navy Yard.
5 Pointz, Queens. One of the best things that I’ve learned to do as a photographer is to just go shoot. Create a story that I believe should be told and tell it. I didn’t know when I was capturing the graffiti mural space known as 5 Pointz years ago that in 2013 the city would vote to demolish it. I didn’t foresee that this artistic hub for artists not just in NYC but all over the globe (artist photographed was from Spain) would be whitewashed, torn down and turned into condos. I have a ton of images from my day photographing 5 Pointz years ago but this is my favorite. The artist travelled from Spain to do a piece on the building in memory of his Grandma.