During the infamous New York City blackout in the summer of 2003, I was 18 years old, sitting at home in St. Louis, Missouri, watching the news as it showed live footage of thousands of New Yorkers walking across the Brooklyn Bridge in the sweltering heat. Numerous people were giving the camera the finger as they passed. As I watched this, I thought to myself: “man, I have got to go to New York!”. In some twisted way, I wanted to be part of it.
I finally made it to New York City in 2007, just for a visit, but it quickly captured my heart and became my home. I never needed convincing. The city may seem exhausting and overwhelming to some people, and you can’t really blame anyone for hating it, neither can you easily explain what’s to love. Many people have tried to put into words what they love about it. I’ve been trying to put it into photos. It’s never just one thing, or one kind of person, it’s the collective struggle of millions of people fighting to make their way, every hour of every day, that makes it a place you can love. After a decade in this weird place, my affection for it has only grown. My wife jokes that I have Stockholm Syndrome for New York.
Whether I’m doing beauty, fashion, travel, or street photography, I think photography can be an exercise in compassion. It allows me to insert myself into different narratives: romance, loneliness, wealth, poverty, being young or old, and so on. When I’m photographing someone, it’s a very short-lived affair, but I get captivated by that specific moment, its subtleties and its humanity. I love how photography allows you to see micro expressions on faces that you might not otherwise notice. But of course, every now and then on the streets of New York, someone will turn and catch me photographing them, and naturally they give me the finger.