We love photography. Weegee and André Kertész are two favorites and ever since we saw the photographs of Vivian Maier, the great street photographer who lived and worked in Chicago (the documentary about her is fascinating), we've been following more and more street photography on Tumblr, Instagram, and elsewhere on the web. Here we thought we'd take a look at ten photographers working today who focus on our great city of New York, which seems to provide endless inspiration.
Humans of New York, with over seventeen million likes on Facebook and a New York Times bestselling book, is one of the most popular street photography sites today. Started by Georgia native Brandon Stanton after being fired from his job as a bond trader, he wanted to create an exhaustive catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants, so he set out to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers and plot their photos on a map, but his project changed. He started collecting quotes and stories when he was taking the photographs, and after a lot of hard work and time spent on NYC city streets (he says that he'll "pass 1,000 people before I take a photograph"), his blog took off.
Born in St. Albans, Queens, Elias Williams's photographic work on his neighborhood was featured in The New York Times, which says there is a "a quietness in Mr. Williams’s photos, but also the steady strength of day-to-day life. The photos are images of what makes a community home." Williams says about his neighborhood: "There’s a whole bunch of stories to tell from the people who lived there. I feel there are too many photos of black people who struggle in America and there’s not much else." Williams recently photographed Ida Keeling, a 100-year-old national champion runner, for a New York Times profile.
Raised in Red Hook, Brooklyn, Jamel Shabazz was introduced to photography at the age of fifteen by his father, a US Navy photographer. He is one of the most important photographers of the late 20th century, and is still working today. He is known especially for his work in early street and hip-hop fashion in New York. His photographs are collected by Lenny Kravitz and Dave Chappelle, among others, so you know he must be doing something right. Shabazz says his goal is "to contribute to the preservation of world history and culture." I, for one, love his Subway Series.
The director of a documentary about New York Street photography called Everybody Street, Cheryl Dunn is also a talented and accomplished street photographer. She says: "I am very conscious of how I move through an environment and how I physically handle my tools that I use to shoot. With documentary practices, my aim is to be fluid and make things appear effortless as to not draw attention to myself so my subjects stay as natural as possible." And about capturing that perfect but fleeting moment on camera: '''The one-half of a second that all these things aligned in your vision, it’s fast and fleeting, and it’s all in the details[.]'''
Scott Schuman started street fashion blog The Sartorialist to create "a two-way dialogue about the world of fashion and its relationship to daily life." Since starting his blog—which was one of the first street fashion blogs—he has been named one of Time's Design 100 as a major design influencer. He says: ''I’m not reporting on a bag; who’s carrying what bag and who’s wearing what dress. I’m not reporting on people. What I am looking for is a certain grace.'' His work resides in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. I saw Schuman across the street from our office one fashion week. He did not photograph me. Still I'm including him in this post.
In his late eighties and still working as a photographer, it's fair to call Bill Cunningham a legend. He began taking street fashion photos while working as a writer at Women's Wear Daily and after he published a set of impromptu pictures in the New York Times—which according to his editor Arthur Gelb "was a breakthrough for The Times, because it was the first time the paper had run pictures of well-known people without getting their permission." Cunningham famously rides a bike and photographs people on the street every day, focusing on how people genuinely dress and use fashion in their every day lives. A documentary was made about him so you know it's serious. Interesting fact: most of his pictures, he has said, are never published.
Mississippi-born Brooklyn-based photographer Ashley Gates is a superbly talented photographer. (Full disclosure: we worked together many years ago as immigration paralegals). Her work has been exhibited at Light + Glass Gallery, Ron Blaylock Fine Art Photography Studio and Gallery, the Eudora Welty House and Garden, Black Box Gallery, the New Orleans Art Center, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center, and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. A Polaroid fan, she has a recently published book We Didn't See Each Other After That of Polaroid photographs of people in their kitchens. Equally adept shooting people and landscapes, her work is often slyly humorous.
"I'm known for taking pictures very close, and the older I get, the closer I get." So says photographer Bruce Gilden, who was born in Brooklyn to a "tough guy" father. Bruce was always drawn to "characters" and also the energy of the streets—"an energy that can momentarily expose something inside people that generally stays hidden." His first major photography project focused on Coney Island and he has published two other street photography books: Facing New York and A Beautiful Catastrophe. He's also worked in Haiti, rural Ireland, Australia, India, and Russia, though we'll admit we're partial to his New York City work.
Former photo assistant to Bruce Gilden and also a darkroom printer, Jonathan Auch's street photography often consists of black and white close-ups and distorted images. He has strong opinions about street photography as he says in Vice: "I think that street photography should be something that has guts. That asks a questions versus gives answers. It's an open genre—you can take a picture of whatever you deem important, attractive, or interesting...There is an unspoken violence that exists in the way we treat each other on the streets in New York. Instead of trying to romanticize that, I'd rather show it plain."
Japanese-born photographer Q. Sakamaki moved to New York in 1986, and was soon photographing radical anti-gentrification protests in his neighborhood in the East Village. Throughout his award-winning career he has focused on human rights issues, and apart from his New York work he has shot internationally in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Kosovo, Haiti, and Liberia. He says about his method of working: "First, [in a photograph] I want to touch some sense, maybe you’d call it a political sense or more like human emotion, that is always my top priority, my first interest. At the Tompkins movement, especially at the beginning, I felt like, 'I’ve never seen this kind of human emotion, I’ve never touched this condition.' That’s why I was so interested." I particularly like his Harlem photos on Instagram.