Tag Archives: NYC

Checked Out & Photographed

March 07, 2016



Many, many, years ago, sitting on the library floor, reading a book about careers in journalism, I came across a passage on photography. My life turned at that point and I began to pursue a career as a photographer. Fast forward to today and I wanted to find a way to combine the enlightenment that can be found through the library, reading and photography and so I began a new project.

I have been documenting the New York Public Library books I have read over the last two years and have made a visual reading list that I would like to share with you. Photographing the back covers because, let’s face it, the back is where the cover action is. The place for a continuation of design or an abandonment of it. A place to host a photograph that may be complicated, a list of endorsements or even a colorful blank! Beyond the actual cover & the content of the book though, these photographs are also a meditation on the beauty of the physical object. A paper, card, cloth and plastic covered object, pocket sized or unwieldy, found often by accident, passed from hand to hand, neighborhood to neighborhood. Finally the photographs tell a story about the NYPL system too. The specific books I borrowed came to me via my local branch at East 96th Street, each one labelled with the names of the different NYPL branches they originated from.

Alongside the books, I also wanted to photograph the magnificent Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, the famous NYPL building at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue. Walking the corridors I was struck by the spill of light which almost seemed to illustrate the quote by Thomas Jefferson featured on the mantel of the fireplace in the Trustees room:

“Look to the diffusion of light and education as the resource most to be relied on for ameliorating the conditions, promoting the virtue and advancing the happiness of man.” Thomas Jefferson.

I’ve compiled these two sets of images into one project – Checked out & Photographed. Produced as a visual reading list in the form of a magazine, each photograph of a book has the NYPL call number and the name, title and publishing information for each book. An encouragement to look up and check out each one!

One of the joys of the library is to find the most perfect book that you never knew you were looking for. Maybe you will find that book in this list. Maybe you will discover your next favorite author. Maybe, as happened with me, you will find one book that will resonate so perfectly with your own vision that you will buy it multiple times and end up borrowing it from the library because you keep giving your own copy away!

Click below to see the inside pages, when you are there, click on the ‘i’ for more information. You will be able to download the FREE Ebook, or you can buy a physical copy if you like.

I am also attaching a PDF version below that you can download from this page. The best way to view the PDf is with the free acrobat reader (that is probably already on your computer or you can easily download it from the internet) To see it like a book, two pages at a time, select view, page display, two page view on the toolbar.

PDF of Checked Out & Photographed to download

The library system has a large staff, mostly hidden from the public’s eyes, but there are two women who personally have handed me and received back 90% of the books in this project. I’d like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to Regina Valentine and Patricia Small who work at the 96th Street branch library and have made it always a pleasure to visit!


I’d love to hear about your library, and if you read any of the books in this list let me know! Happy reading!

ˈfōtō ˈfôrtˌnīt frīdē

July 05, 2015

The sunlight bouncing off the silver colored scaffolding on 99th Street caught my attention this morning – so a new one to add to the collection!

Today, July 2015

March 2015

January 2014

Gone. Now?

June 05, 2015

I like to ride the bus. Early morning, pre-dawn, and late at night. The M15 is my bus of choice. Down 2nd Avenue and up First. There’s not so much traffic at 5am and it’s actually quicker than making my way to the train and then waiting for one to arrive. More importantly, unlike the subway, there’s a view. Mind you, for a city that supposedly never sleeps, the M15 route has a surprisingly dark, slow view. I sit morning after morning, enveloped by the darkness, my reverie broken occasionally by neon signs and 24 hour bodegas catching my attention. So, I decided to get off the bus and begin to photograph, in the dark.

Although my initial visual interest was in the dark emptiness that made up the route I got seduced by the glowing neons that popped forcefully out of the night and so began to photograph them. On March 26th though I changed my mind and stopped. On Second Avenue at 7th Street there was an explosion that demolished three buildings and two people’s lives. After the initial shock and thoughts for those affected, I cynically thought that this would be a wonderful opportunity for some real estate developer. Instead of 100+ year old, low rise buildings with tens of rent stabilized apartments, there could be a big building with 30 floors and MARKET RATE apartments.

Back on the bus, I continued looking out of the window and realized that the darkness was not just a sleepy night. It was emptiness I was looking into. That’s why it felt so different from the daylight hours when people rushing about distract you from the urban landscape. There were gaping holes in the urban fabric. Empty lots. Some empty for years, not even noticed anymore. Buildings knocked down and land held until its value begins to rise. Buildings with residents and businesses, there one minute, gone in the blink of an eye. Grand plans for new builds, some will materialize soon, others, maybe not.

Of course it’s not just on the M15 bus route, the city is a constantly evolving building site. But this is my usual route and so I decided to keep track of what’s going on. I photographed each empty lot that appeared to be unused or in the very early stages of being built on. From the start of the M15 route at 125th Street and Second Avenue down to the bottom of Manhattan, the Staten Island Ferry terminal and back to 125th Street up First Avenue.

I’ve filed the photographs in a concertina folder, one pocket for each location and I hope to revisit and add to the file as time goes on. You can see the photographs here…. Gone. Now?

You’ll notice that I have added text underneath each photograph. The cross streets so that you can find each site (should you want to!). I have also added links to articles that correspond directly to the site photographed or that speak more generally to the current atmosphere on development, preservation and gentrification. If you live in New York you’ll be aware of many of these discussions. If you live elsewhere I think these articles will give you some insight.

I’ve photographed vacant lots but their silence speaks to more than emptiness.

ˈfōtō ˈfôrtˌnīt frīdē

December 18, 2014

“Small Wonders’ at the Atlantic Gallery, is on until Saturday 20th but if you can’t make it here’s my small part of it, framed and on the wall. (From the El Barrio series).



In case you are wondering each photograph is 4″ H x 6″ W – individually framed in white wood, with a flat surface. These are attached together, in the back, to make one piece that is 18″ H x 8″ W.

Oh That View!

It is not something I usually do.

I usually prefer the local and the intimate.

But, it had to be done.

I bounced over the Squibb Park Bridge.

And joined the throngs of tourists.

Claimed my spot.

Set up my tripod.

Only half over the barrier.

Not as foolhardy as others; risking a camera/tripod dip in the East River.

Ready to take the twilight picture.

The same one everyone else was waiting and lined up for.

That quintessential view of the New York City skyline.


There is nothing of my day to day life in this photograph.

It is just a spectacle that attracts me.

A glorious one that I pass by, in a car, not on foot.

Many times I wanted to stop and look at the view.

So this day I did.

Photographing it for posterity.


Far left is the Statue of Liberty.

Far right, hiding behind the Brooklyn Bridge, are the Empire State and Chrysler buildings.

I work at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, but you can’t see where I live.





ˈfōtō ˈfôrtˌnīt frīdē

I saw this whilst exploring the building during Interior Lives, the exhibition at the National Arts Club in Gramercy. It’s in the ladies loo! You never know where the light is going to catch your eye!



People and Place


I am honoured to have my work chosen by Juror Andrea Meislin, Owner and Director of the Andrea Meislin Gallery in Manhattan. She selected two of my images, for first place in the environment category and third place in the black and white category.

You can see my two photographs and those of the other photographers that were chosen here: