#69 Postcard Allgemein

New York City through the lens

New York City – the metropolis that had been etched in my dreams for three decades. Its iconic skyline, the buzz of yellow taxis, and the promise of serendipitous moments awaited me as I combed through the vivid tapestry. It felt like a 5-day déjà vu, a collision of reality and fantasy. The Empire State of Mind enveloped me: “Big lights will inspire you.”

The city greeted me with a blend of familiarity and novelty. The towering skyscrapers, their steel and glass façades reaching for the heavens, stood as silent sentinels. The steam rising from manholes, like ethereal tendrils, whispered secrets of the underground world. And the cacophony of languages – each syllable a thread weaving the city’s diverse tapestry – was both comforting and exhilarating. It was as if I’d seen it all before, yet every detail remained fresh, every face a story waiting to unfold.

204,402 steps, or approximately 150 kilometers, carried me through the labyrinth of streets. Each corner held a secret, a fleeting moment frozen in my lens. Being a street photographer certainly helps to find new frames in one of the most photographed cities in the world. It wasn’t merely about snapping the obvious—the grandeur of landmarks or the hustle of crowds. No, it was about finding beauty in the mundane – the rain-slicked cobblestones, the stoop conversations, the graffiti-adorned walls, individuals as the leitmotif. These seemingly ordinary elements whispered tales of resilience and vulnerability, etching themselves into my memory.

Ah, my trusty funky squeezerlens – a quirky companion on this visual journey. It allowed me to reinvent the wheel in popular spots, distorting reality and bending perspectives. Yet, attempting fast street photography with it bordered on madness. More than once, curious fellow photographers inquired about this special lens and its peculiar effects. Their raised eyebrows mirrored my own fascination with taking the meaning of photography “painting with light” literally and using the lens as a brush, the sensor as a canvas and reality as the raw material.1

New York’s streets unfolded like a choreographed chaos. People swirled around me, their lives intersecting briefly – a fleeting waltz of humanity. I stationed myself at strategic corners, an invisible observer amidst the throng. In SoHo, fashionistas strutted with purpose, their attire a canvas of self-expression. On Wall Street, hurried financiers navigated the concrete canyons, their briefcases laden with dreams and calculations. And in Times Square, neon-lit dreamers gazed upward, their aspirations reflected in the dazzling billboards.

As daylight waned, the city transformed. The rain-slicked streets became mirrors, reflecting the glow of street lamps. Shadows danced, elongating across the pavement. Faces emerged from the darkness – strangers who became subjects. Their eyes held stories – of love, loss, resilience, and hope. Their laughter echoed off wet pavement, a symphony of shared moments.

And so, amidst the chaos and quietude, New York whispered its tales to me. I listened, my camera clicking like a typewriter that records the verses of existential fragements. As I boarded back home, I carried New York’s streets with me. The dream fulfilled, the déjà vu fading, but the inspiration burning bright. The rain-soaked lens had captured more than images – it had frozen emotions, whispers, and the soul of a city that never sleeps.

If you like, you can order selected prints from here.

  1. The squeezerlens is a relikt of Frank Baeseler, which has a small community of enthusiasts (more info). I was able to obtain a piece made by his son in remembrance of his father. I don’t know at the moment whether the project will be continued, but it’s worth taking a regular look at squeezerlens.com

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