As the home to over eight million people, New York City is a veritable mecca for street photography. Part-documentary, part-art, and completely dependent on the skill of the photographer (and, of course, a little luck) to capture a fleeting moment, street photography is about storytelling—and what better place to show a narrative than a city where inspiration and subjects can be found on every corner?
From OG Jamel Shabazz, who helped to create street photography as we know it with his images of the early days of hip-hop (and who’s still shooting today), to Rhynna Santos’ loving documentation of life in the Bronx, here are 10 street photographers telling the tales of life in New York City.
Jamel Shabazz: Brooklyn born and bred Jamel Shabazz bore witness to the birth of hip-hop and, lucky for us, he faithfully documented the whole thing, from the start of graffiti art to the early career highlights of pioneers like Fab 5 Freddy. Shabazz’s photography is so influential, he was the subject of a 2013 documentary about his work, Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer. Shabazz still shoots street photography today, which he posts alongside throwback shots of his work from the ‘70s and ‘80s.
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Straight out of Brownsville. On the uptown number 2 train. In a time before crack. #pose #youth #sons #brotherhood #brotherlylove #peace #friendship #documentaryphotography #portraitphotography #oldschool #backintheday #graffiti #graffart #brooklynstreetphotography #brownsvillebrooklyn #mtasubway #style #1980s #jamelshabazzarchive
Sue Kwon: Sue Kwon is one of New York’s most well-respected street photographers, known primarily for her documentation of hip-hop culture and downtown life. The go-to photographer for everyone from Mobb Deep to Wu-Tang, Kwon is currently working on a project on the racial dynamics of the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville.
Andre Wagner: Andre Wagner’s black-and-white photos elevate the workings of everyday life for New Yorkers, finding intimacy and poignancy in seemingly mundane moments like a subway commute. Wagner shoots entirely on film, developing his photos in a home darkroom that he built himself. His work is centered on the experiences of the black community in the city.
Rhynna Santos: Rhynna Santos’ photographs are a deeply compassionate look at life for people of color living in New York City, specifically her hometown of the Bronx. The Puerto Rico-born photographer’s work also has a deeply personal bent; one of her biggest projects is her longtime documentation of her father, salsa and Latin jazz legend Ray Santos.
Daniel Arnold: Daniel Arnold’s images are arresting, bold, and, at times, irreverent. While Arnold’s career as a photographer was ushered in on a wave of Instagram popularity, his craft is rooted in finding the right moment and capturing it on film.
Cheryl Dunn: After two decades of doing street photography, Cheryl Dunn decided to make a documentary about the iconic street photographers who created the craft as we know it now, Everybody Street.
13th Witness: Timothy McGurr, or 13th Witness, as he’s known to over 700k followers, is street photography at its most extreme. From fearless aerial shots to rowdy captures of shenanigans in downtown New York, the native New Yorker’s feed is a non-stop look at life in the fast lane.
Monaris: Paola Franqui’s street photography focuses on finding the personal in daily interactions. Her documentation ranges from portraiture to cityscapes, a love letter of sorts to the city that never sleeps and its countless occupants.
The Wasted Talent: Peter Pabón, otherwise known as the Wasted Talent, is a longtime resident of New York’s downtown scene. His photography captures the energy of the city, often featuring portraits of fellow creatives.
Visual Memories: Jomayra Texeira’s photographs are darkly beautiful ruminations on a city that can feel moody at times. While Texeira primarily shoots on an iPhone, her images have a nostalgic feel, an ode to Old New York.