New York City is arguably the most interesting and visually diverse and arresting city on earth. While the city may not have the history of some European and Asian cities, it has made up for lost time by developing an incredibly unique and rich identity and personality that draws people to it with the same awe as was the case a century ago. The variety that can be found in NYC is hard to find elsewhere. Thanks to the many nationalities that have found their version of the American Dream without losing their ancestral roots, the makeup of the city is truly magical but also ever-changing.
The energy, personality, visual beauty, and evolving DNA of NYC is what attracts countless photographers. There is an unimaginable number of subject-matters to discover, people to capture, colors to appreciate, moods to relish. Some of my most loved picture books focus on New York City. It’s All Good by Boogie made headlines a few years back by capture the vivid street life of the city. The photographer was truly given intimate access to thug life which resulted in some unbelievable photos.
Another picture book that digs into the character of NYC is called New York: 365 Days. It is a brilliant book that spans over 100 years allowing you to see the evolution of the city through a variety of then-and-now photos. The shots are selected from the New York Times archives, a treasure trove of memorialized moments. The description from Amazon does the book most justice: “New York: 365 Days” is the equivalent of a walking tour through time and space. Beginning with New Year’s Day, the reader takes a fascinating and evocative journey thought the New York Year, stopping at such calendrical landmarks as the opening of the baseball season, the Fourth of July, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center”.
However, the 2 books that best bring to life the vibrancy and also the magic of New York City (in my opinion) are by James and Karla Murray. The books are called Storefront and New York Nights. The first book out of the two is Storefront and it captures all the character of the city through the highly personalized storefronts: the temples created by those who are living the American Dream through the creation of their own business, often interpreting the flavors and customs of their home countries, but always with a twist. The beauty of the book is that many of the stores disappear with the rhythm of the city and this book memorialized them.
The most recent book from James and Karla Murray is called New York Nights (see here) and it is absolutely beautiful. The reason that I appreciate it so much is that it celebrates the night time art that surrounds the city made up of the light creations of facades peppered throughout the city. As I travel to cities around the world, many that have very public lightscapes, I cannot find the same variety coupled with the American extravagance and a rich cultural history. The photos below will bring this to life. The book is a worthwhile pick-up. Enjoy.