Who’s shooting the pedestrians in New York?

Who’s shooting the pedestrians in New York?

In a city of 8.2 million people, it’s not surprising to find photographers out and about trying to capture portraits of the everyday New Yorker. Almost every few blocks has a different name from TriBeca to BedStuy to Clinton (nay, Hell’s Kitchen), and each with a different personality and crowd of characters. There is hardly a place in the world where such diversity and independence exists.

Copehagen-based freelance photographer, Simon Høgsberg, traveled to NYC one month each year from 2003 – 2006 to work on a project he called “The Tower of Babel.” Curiously, he stopped because “I realized I no longer believed in the idea behind it.” It’s unfortunate because I think his images are fantastic. This first one is amazing — dude taking a self portrait with newly purchased camera from B&H.

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Photo by Simon Høgsberg

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Photo by Simon Høgsberg

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Photo by Simon Høgsberg

Simon also worked on a project called Faces of New York in which he asked bystanders “What do you think about your face?” If you’ve ever gone up to multiple people on the street and asked them to allow you to photograph them, then you have a very good appreciation for how difficult a project this could be.

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Photo by Simon Høgsberg

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Photo by Simon Høgsberg

Jake Chessum is known for his celebrity portraits, but perhaps equally known in these parts for the time he spent shooting for New York Magazine’s Look Book. The project was to find sartorially correct (or at least interesting) New Yorkers on the street and take a portrait of them.


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Photo by Jake Chessum

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Photo by Jake Chessum

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Photo by Jake Chessum

Like Chessum, Clay Enos took to the streets with a mobile studio in a project entitled “Street Studio.” Don’t forget to checkout his new book of Watchmen portraits.

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Photo by Clay Enos

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Photo by Clay Enos

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Photo by Clay Enos

Perhaps the most controversial of the New York street portraits is Philip-Lorca DiCorcia’s image of Erno Nussenzweig. The image was taken without Nussenzweig’s knowledge and then sold as as an art photo. Nussenzweig sued, but lost because the artistic rights of the photographer outweighed the rights of privacy of the subject while walking on a public thoroughfare. All legalities aside, it is a fascinating image.

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Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

Many photographers lament the closing of newspapers and the conversion to purely electronic editions. While I agree that there isn’t currently anything that matches the feeling of reading a folded newspaper on the subway, there also isn’t anything on the printed page to match the depth of the New York Times’ One in 8 Million feature. This on-going series combined audio with the amazing photographs of Pulitzer Prize winner (and former Rocky Mountain News photogapher – RIP) Todd Heisler. These few images don’t do it justice, so make sure you view the piece.

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Photo by Todd Heisler/New York Times

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Photo by Todd Heisler/New York Times

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Photo by Todd Heisler/New York Times

Are there other cities where portrait taking of its citizens is so pervasive?

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Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

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