The photograph of Robert’s that was a significant turning point for me is “Canal Street—New Orleans.” This image had always puzzled me, as if it were saying, “See this undifferentiated mass of pedestrians? It’s worthy of an image.” But why? I asked myself dozens of times as I paged through “The Americans.” Why did Robert make this photograph? What was he thinking? Why did he use it in the book when it seems so generalized? Over time, I came to realize that the reasons for making a photograph and what it may mean to you later are two different things, and what it means to somebody else is yet another. This image came to life for me years after I first puzzled about it, when I was undertaking a transformation in my own work and realized that Robert had planted a seed that was then sprouting.—Joel Meyerowitz
Although I could convey a moment and capture peak action and even humor in my pictures, I didn’t know how to wade into situations of emotional intimacy. After discussing the problem with Dan Habib, the paper’s photo editor, I knew I had to try something different. I had heard about approaching an assignment as a fly on the wall, and this appealed to the introvert in me, but I made a conscious decision to break out of that mold. For my next long-form project, I resolved to invest in a close relationship with my subject. Once I had tried it, I decided, I would assess the outcome and move forward.
After the slog of commuting and working on a New York summer day, walking outside into the light of the golden hour can be a salve in itself. That fleeting period of time—shortly before the sun sets, or after it rises, when shadows grow longer and everything appears to glow—lends us an opportunity to reconsider the world around us, recast in warm color. To mark the seventieth anniversary of Magnum Photos, The New Yorker asked the storied agency’s photographers, who were in town, last week, for their annual meeting, to capture New York City during the evening golden hour. The physical distance between the resulting photographs, a few of which were taken on days when the weather yielded more blue light than gold, is quietly underscored by the emotional distance in them: in Midtown, a lone white-haired man walks an empty road, bowing toward the sun, while Pride Parade revellers in the West Village seem to welcome the oncoming night. Viewed together, these images offer a portrait of the city in the vanishing light of long summer evenings. “In my mind,” the Magnum photographer Peter van Agtmael told me, “sometimes the shadows the light casts are more interesting than the light itself.”
“On any person who desires such queer prizes,” E. B. White wrote in his classic essay “Here Is New York,” in 1949, “New York will bestow the gift of loneliness.” It remains an essential paradox of the city—that a place with so many people living so close together can also be so isolating. This is one of the phenomena that the photographer Peter Garritano hoped to explore in “Seeking,” a series of portraits of New Yorkers who have posted advertisements in the Strictly Platonic personals section of Craigslist. The world has acclimated to the fact that people might go online to find a mate, but there are fewer formal avenues through which to find friends, perhaps because friendship is not always acknowledged as something that people have to go out in search of. “We already know everyone’s looking for love,” Garritano told me in an e-mail. “I’m more concerned with our social requirements beyond romance.”