Throughout this project, you will be able to preview selections from my upcoming photo book about New York City entitled Alone Together.
The title for the project, Alone Together, is inspired by the unique human phenomenon of feeling simultaneously ISOLATED and CONNECTED, which New York City living makes so tangible to me. (You'd think the Germans would have invented a word for this by now.)
The fact is, we are all alone in life. Yet the intense, sweet, often brutal and strange stories of human struggle and triumph constantly displayed on the streets of New York City make me feel strangely connected to everyone.
Walking through the city with my camera, I often feel like a character in Wim Wenders' Far Away, So Close! Depending on my mood, I hear the compassionate sadness of The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," or the paranoid anxiety of The Doors' "People Are Strange" playing as a soundtrack in my head.
Alone Together aims to call out everyone's sense of isolation and, in so doing, strives to make everything feel (at least I hope) more connected. My hope is that these images will evoke the same feelings of disparate intimacy that the city does for me. I want the project to provide a meaningful way to slow the city down, to enable a viewer to pause and linger for a moment at New York's strange and beautiful existence.
Ultimately, I hope the project conveys how this constantly changing landscape holds all kinds of timeless human emotion and experience—right now, in our time. Sounds pretentious to me when I write it down, but there it is.
ELEMENTS OF STYLE
I have arrived at this particular style of black and white imagery: wide dynamic tonal range (mostly on the darker end of the spectrum, with rich blacks and data-less highlights) by intuition.
It has become a strangely immediate and obvious style for me to employ and it brings me a great deal of creative satisfaction. I suspect that this "look" comes from some deep perspective I have on the city (and myself) that needs expression. I like to add a touch of grain to give the work a sense of romantic nostalgia, which I think comes from my love of vintage street photography and French cinema from the ‘60s and ‘70s.
I am obsessed with gritty, gummy, trash-stained sidewalks and streets, along with dramatic cloudy skies. I enjoy countering how most New Yorkers limit their viewpoint to a few feet in front of them to avoid collision by getting low and capturing both earth and sky in my frames. The 35mm focal length is just wide enough that it forces me to really consider the scene beyond my subject and allows me to wedge a strong sense of place and environment into the frame. I love this focal length.
I am attracted to isolated subjects in strange situations and places, mostly doing strange things. I love it when a person's realness "leaks" out. I enjoy an imperfect vérité feel to my compositions—awkward subject placement, dutched angles—my camera is rarely level. I enjoy imperfections and awkwardness. The less detailed and polished the image looks, the more human and honest it feels to me.
I also have a thing for triangles. I am naturally drawn to triangular relationships between subjects, objects and environments, as well as triangular relationships between subject, environment and camera/me. I also love it when people bust me taking their photograph; it is a very powerful experience that comes through in the final image.
For me, the photographs that comprise Alone Together are part documentary, part depressive nightmare, part romantic fantasy. Again, it all sounds totally pretentious to me when I write it out, but there it is.
For those interested, the project is shot entirely on a Nikon D800 & D810 with a Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art lens. You can research them via my shop link here on PRoPS. All images are processed via Adobe Lightroom and I do my black and white conversions via Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro.
The book will be available for purchase in the fall of 2017. Pre-orders available soon here on PRoPS.
This project has been an incredibly challenging, emotional and rewarding experience for me and I’m glad to be able to share the images with you. I sincerely appreciate your interest.