NY/LA Photo Project: Quintessential (November)

For the December NY/LA Photo Project I chose the word “Quintessential”. Since we are doing this project based on our cities, I wanted to shoot something that was recognizably New York City. I see the Empire State Building each time I step outside my office building and it is especially beautiful and iconic at night. It’s an ever-present reminder of the amazing city I live in.

NY/LA Photo Project: Light (October 2011)

For October’s theme of the NY/LA Photo Collaboration, Paul chose “Light” and I thought there was nothing more synonymous with Light and New York City than Times Square. Although it’s beyond commercial and flooded with tourists, it’s still such a beautiful spectacle!

NY/LA Photo Project – Memory (September 2011)

Photo: 539 West 162nd Street

For September’s theme, I chose the word Memory because I thought it would be a good challenge and started thinking of various ideas, discarding the first few that were strong in memory but didn’t have any relation to my city.

The idea for the above diptych came about because for the last 6 months I’ve been gathering information, trying to build a family history that I could one day give to my sons. I come from a slew of interesting characters, one of which is my grandfather Edgar Brastow (formerly Alvarenga before being adopted by his stepfather), who was born in New York City and lived just 45 blocks from my first apartment in the city (he on 165th and Broadway and I at 207th and Broadway). I liked the idea of visiting the building/street/neighborhood he once lived in and picturing him as a little boy in this city that we’ve both experienced, just at different moments in time. Sentimental I know. This isn’t my best photograph(s). It’s not particularly creative and there was construction at the entrance that I had to work around but in this case I felt the experience was more important than the end result.

Below is my Great Grandmother Theresa Alvarenga’s Naturalization paperwork where I came across the address they lived at during the 30’s.

Friend and NY/LA Photo Project co-conspirator Paul Kingsley has chosen “light” for October. I’m really looking forward to the challenge of creating something interesting for our next theme.

NY/LA Project – Forgotten (August 2011)

Continuing my project with friend and fellow photographer Paul Kingsley (see his photo for August here), this project was a challenge for me. When I initially thought of the word “Forgotten”, images of abandoned buildings, deserted cars, people down and out on their luck came to mind. After some thought, I decided I wanted to photograph the homeless man who occasionally sits at the top of the stairs of my subway station, asking for change. I watch people in the morning rushing past him, afraid to look at him, unable to put themselves in his shoes – where a few different circumstances could have landed them right where he is. But the picture above is not of him because I felt that taking his photo would be exploiting his hardship for my creative endeavor. I struggled with the idea but come away feeling good about the choice. Since New York is never short on forgotten items, instead I give you the abandoned shoes I came across on my walk to work. I imagine someone found them askew and lined them up for the visual effect and then went on their way. They caught my eye as an everyday item left behind.

Sharing food with another human being…

“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly” – M. F. K. Fisher

One of the very nicest things about life…

(Spaghetti Carbonara)

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating” ~Luciano Pavarotti

I have always imagined that Paradise…

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library” ~ Jorge Luis Borges

When I got my library card…

“When I got my library card, that’s when my life began” ~ Rita Mae Brown

NY/LA Photo Project – July’s Theme: Landmark

Continuing my project with longtime friend and fellow photographer Paul Kingsley, the theme we selected for July was “Landmark”. Living in New York, I’m surrounded by landmarks – I work just 20 blocks from the Empire State Building and see it each time I leave my office. I wanted to choose something that was still iconic but not on every postcard you find at the local bodega. I chose the Main Branch of the New York Public Library (properly known as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building). I have a long-standing love of libraries stemming from having free reign of my own local branch all through childhood and my teen years. For some reason, after almost 10 years of living in the city, I’d never visited the main branch, something I regretted the minute I stepped inside. Cool, quiet, the marble practically glowing in certain parts while dark and dim in other spots. Beautiful hallways, incredible architecture, hidden treasures. I wandered into different rooms, the click of my camera seemed deafening in an environment where the only noises were pages being turned, quiet clicks of keyboards, the occasional throat clearing. Down one row of books I found a stretch of old card catalogs and that is where I took my photo for July. This photo taught me that I need to improve on my depth of field skills when working in low lit areas without a flash. Still, I think it’s an interesting shot. More photos of my visit to follow…

A work of art is a confession…

“A work of art is a confession” – Albert Camus

More photos from my recent trip to the Museum of Modern Art, NYC