For about a week, I've been posting different types of images on my Instagram. Images not exactly pertaining to urban cycling. It was a mixed reaction to say the least. I mentioned I would give an explanation. Now, here it is.
Bike Your City is not only about bikes. This entity wasn't built to be confined to such. It's about self-empowerment, discovery, taking control, and living a better a life through bicycles - all while at the same time sharing my love for New York City.
Photography has been a growing interest of mine for the past year and a half. As of recent, it has stood out to me as a means to get messages out. Having grown-up playing music and even experimented with sketching briefly as a teenager, I've always been fond of creative and artistic outlets of expression.
Since the beginning of BYC (and if you remember that far - thank you), you might have seen me mention or credit a photographer, David Kamerov, a few times. In fact, he provided me some great images when this site was launched under the new platform. Not only has he been a big supporter of Bike Your City, he is and continues to be a dear friend and inspiration.
It was through Kamerov's street photography of NYC and talent for capturing the human condition, which provided me the stimulus to pursue different expressive ventures myself. Why? His photos speak to me and I understand them. I could see his reason for taking the photo and could even imagine myself doing the same behind the lens. I had borrowed equipment on several occasions and I immediately fell in love with the ability to frame and trap moments with a push of a button.
As a result, BYC will continue as it has by sharing the urban cycling experience through blog posts, events, photos, videos, and interviews with people from all walks of life who ride in NYC. However, it will also start sharing images outside the bicycle realm to showcase my passion for "The City. The Strange. The Untold."
You may already access some of these photos on my new Flickr page. You may also click on the icon found on top-right of the page. Be sure to follow and look for newly uploaded images.
I close with an recent interview I had with David Kamerov.
How did you first get into photography?
I started in August 2013. I always wanted to pursue a hobby that gave me that creative outlet for an artistic bend I’ve had since childhood. I drew and painted pictures as a kid, but never in my adulthood have I been exposed to the arts very much so I decided to pick up a camera and that’s what I did.
What was there something that inspired you to pick up the camera?
There was no external influence. It was purely self-motivated.
But why photography among all else?
Well, I’m not good at music. I like to be outside. I like to be on the street where the energy is. I like to document the human condition. I like to meet, talk, and interact with people, so photography affords you a way to do all that. It’s unique that it’s both social and anti-social. It’s almost like graffitti art in a way. You’re in a public space. You’re dealing with a community of people, but at the same time you can choose if you want to reveal yourself or if you want to hide in the shadows. That’s what photography allows you to do.
What attracted you most to street photography?
The energy of the street. I started shooting in the summer, so there were plenty of sunny days. Just to go out on a sunny day and take photos of anything that held my attention for more than a second. We live in a high pace society where everything is passing by us at an accelerated rate of speed. Photography allowed a means to capture that. It allowed me to connect with people through my camera lens without having to sit behind a computer or draw a picture on a wall. It was an easy outlet for me. I can’t describe it better than that.
What sort of goals did you have yourself? What did you expect to achieve?
I wanted to document people because people interested me. I got into architecture and landscapes a lot later under the influence of my friend, Orson. Primarily, people interested me. I liked Brandon Stanton’s style in Humans of New York and I wanted to emulate it.
What is it about NYC that makes it possibly the most photographed city in the world?
Diversity has a lot to do with it. The diversity of people, places, neighborhoods, and architecture. You can jump on the subway or take a bike and go just about anywhere within 15 minutes - you’d be in a completely different place. Also, easy access to diverse points of interest is also another reason. It’s easy to take a photo, but it’s hard to take a good photo. I’ve taken about thousands of street photos, but I can only stand behind about five photos that I like. There is a lot of opportunity, but it’s difficult to make a career out of it for one thing. It’s also difficult to get a good shot because massive opportunity does not equal massive accomplishment in New York City.
For someone who doesn’t know your photography, how would you describe it.
I would describe it as against the status-quo, anti-authoritarian - probably in that I don’t look up to any masters in photography or have any role models in photography. I would also describe it as trying to tell a story; a narrative type of photography. Embedded in the image is always an attempt at a story. The image doesn’t stand on its own. It’s not a static image. It’s always part of a larger nexus or framework of storytelling that is often just eluded or hinted at. It’s not always apparent. If you take more than one image, then you find a narrative that goes through them and I think that’s what I was always struggling for - which was to able to tell a message.
Do you predetermine these messages before shooting?
Sometimes they come to you! In the NYC streets, you can’t help but be struck by the divergence of the have's and have not's always. I think it’s one thing that caught my interest and attention. I think I always had a social and political undertone to my work, but where I wanted to display the condition of dispossessed people or not of means in the city. So I often focused on homeless people.
Why is that?
Because they had nobody to tell their story. Because they’re forgotten or ignored, so I often photographed that. I was told by certain people it was exploitative to take photographs of homeless people, but my argument was that if I should showcase my work to a large enough audience, then somebody somewhere might do something about the chronic problem of homelessness and dispossessed people or without means. I also eventually got into architecture and landscapes. Geometry really appealed to me. This is completely different from people. This is straight geometric appearance of buildings. It really appealed to me. I can’t tell you why. Probably because I always look for symmetry in things.
What has been your most symmetrical finding?
The Hell Gate Bridge is very symmetrical in certain times of the day. When the sunlight hits it a certain way. That’s probably my favorite photo - the one I took of the Hell Gate Bridge.
Would you had been able to achieve the same quality photos in a different city?
I think in a different city I would have turned more inward. Less extroverted with my photography. I would've had more in private spaces, like photos of flowers or some shit.
So you’re not doing any photography now, is it something you miss?
don’t miss it because I feel like with Tumblr (the platform I used) I achieved a lot. I was happy with the work that I did. I didn’t see a need to put more work out there.