new york city

New York is a funny old place. We know it so well, so intimately before we have ever even been there. It’s woven into our memories and culture through films and music and fashion and art. The first time you go there you have a strong feeling of deja vu. Steam coming out of the street – just like on TV. A fat man eating a hot dog waving his arms wildly and shouting at the traffic “I’m walking here!” just like in the films. A skyline that looks a bit weird without type running across it announcing the end credits. Having spent a fair old amount of time visiting and living in New York over the years, it’s doubly familiar and from a photographers point of view that can present a challenge. It’s easy to go to far off exotic places and capture those moments that stand out as extraordinary, unusual or vibrant. We see the clues straight away – it’s all the things that are different from what we are used to. Everything is a photo opportunity – from the road signs to the way people dress to the intensity of the sunlight. But what of those places we know so much better, that we are more familiar with and don’t come with their own attention grabbing headlines? The places we know well, where we live and frequent, where we have a routine and where we don’t look out so much for the unusual as we coast along on autopilot like the rest of the crowd, steeped in the day to day? These are the places where it is more difficult to capture images that will feel special or have meaning – you need to get in between the cracks. These photographs are a selection of over 20 years of trying to do that, with the city changing and reinventing itself throughout that time. Mostly it’s Brooklyn, the Lower East Side, Chinatown and Coney Island – my favourite areas that have changed so much over the years. Many of these things just aren’t there anymore. Gentrification is seen as a bit of a dirty word – certainly Williamsburg and the Lower East Side are not the edgy outlands they once were. Like London, New York becomes increasingly a city with an international feel, with the quirks expunged and idiosyncrasies ironed out as the cool crowd move in. As things get cleaner and less sketchy and more expensive, the price you pay is the personality and character that attracted people in the first place diminishes.

astroland

Coney Island. There’s no where as cold as Coney Island on a winter’s day.

 

CHROME-CAR

Wall Street

 

pink-bmx-in-snow

The Crack Bike – used by local Brooklyn dealers to transport their wares.

 

BROOKLYN

Williamsburg before the gentrification. We used to go and sit out on a derelict pier on the river here.

 

window-from-flat2

Battery Park

 

car-back-window

FDR Drive

 

coney-island-palm-tree

Coney Island. Snow not sand.

 

CAR-BROOKLYN2new

Williamsburg, late 90s.

 

WINDOW

Brooklyn. Rory’s window.

 

EAST-VILLAGE-CAR-2

Rivington Street

 

CAR-EAST-VILL

Rivington Street

 

Cardboard-box

Brooklyn

 

AT&T-BUILDING

The Old At&T Building, Church Street

 

woman-china-town

Chinatown

 

van-window

Allen Street

 

teapots-window

The Bowery. The only thing here used to be industrial catering outlets.

 

mower

Washington Square

 

truck-chinese-writing

Grand Street

 

florist-window

Clinton Street

 

eat-here

The Moondance Diner 6th Avenue (RIP)

 

crabs

Chinatown. Do you have crabs?

 

STREET-NY

Tribeca

 

chinatown-window-2

Chinatown

 

chinatown-window-1

Chinatown

 

ny-twin-towers2

View from my window, 2001

pizza-911

Ben’s Pizza, Spring Street, post 911

 

us-window

The Bowery, post 911

 

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