The biggest poet of old New York — Steven Siegel

Do you find New York today less photogenic than it was a few decades ago?

Photogenic is such a subjective word. I never get tired of street photography, and I really do believe that Manhattan street photography in particular is unique and always will be, precisely because of the mix of people on the street and in the subways from all over the world. So a striking Manhattan street photograph might include a juxtaposition of a business person next to a homeless person next to recent immigrants. New York is eight million people from all over the world living in relative peace, which is hopeful for the whole world, that people in such close proximity can get along.

The essence of New York is and always has been forced interaction with strangers every step of the way. For most Americans, that’s incredibly anxiety producing. They’re used to their bubble, their personal space they can control. Random interactions, that’s what New York’s about, and that’s what street photography’s about. We as photographers, we want to tap into it because the power of a great street photograph is the power of people who don’t know one another passing by like ships in a night, and what that says when you have a picture of New York, Midtown Manhattan with a high powered businessman passing a homeless man on the street. That high powered businessman, if he were in suburban New Jersey, would never pass a homeless man. He would never have to confront that. He’d be in his limousine. So street photography is all about documenting that, which is what cities are, especially New York. People from all around the world being in close proximity. (с)

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