Category Archives: Photographers/Photography

New York/New York

American Grotesque

The innocent victim, wounds hidden beneath pillow, the wholesome family, white coated doctor, white roses, heart balloons, the gleaming modern hospital, president and first lady posed slightly to foreground. Smiles all around. Another day, another school shooting. 🙂

New York/London


Sto Werkstatt, London

At the opening of the exhibition Building Images at Sto Werkstatt in London, which features the 20 shortlisted photographs for the Architectural Photography Awards. My wife, Renee Schoonbeek on the right.


Sto Werkstatt, London

My photograph of Atlantic City.

New York/London

My photograph (above) from my Atlantic City project was shortlisted for Architecture Photograph of the Year 2017 and will be exhibited In London — opening this Thursday. I will be present at the opening Thursday evening, and will be in London through Sunday, if anyone is interested in a meet up. I haven’t been to London in quite a while — should be fun.

New York/Atlantic City


Book Cover Proposal

I’ve been working on a book dummy of my Atlantic City photographs. This a closeup of the former Trump Plaza casino hotel, and the crest once had a Trump logo in the center oval. Imagine the lettering ATLANTIC CITY stamped in gold foil.

Here’s what the interior pages look like:

The book includes approximately 50 photographs with text on the left and images on the right. The text pieces are a combination of personal observations, quotes from various newspapers and online media, and screenshots of Donald Trump’s tweets about Atlantic City. Fifteen tweets to be exact.

They’re great. What can I say.

Yes, sad for all the haters and losers. And for the United States of America now that Donald Trump has dumped Atlantic City and taken his carney show on the road..

This is a book that needs to get published — I just don’t know if anyone will take it on. I certainly don’t have Trump’s savvy for flim-flammery. But I do have a book that is urgent, poignant, and, in my opinion, important.

New York/Beginnings


Richmond, Virginia (35mm Kodachrome) 1971

I’ve been think a lot lately about the early days of color photography, and I’ve done a number of posts on the subject in the past. I am making a proposal to do an exhibition at Cooper Union about the school’s role in the emergence of color photography in the 1970s. I don’t know if the idea will get traction or not — it will take a lot of work to put together.

The picture above was taken when I was 16 or 17 — around 1971. I had just gotten a camera and was shooting black and white primarily. One day I ran a roll of Kodachrome through the camera and ended up with several pictures that resonated deeply with me. All I could do at first was look at the slides through a little viewer — I didn’t even have a projector. So, I got a few drug store prints made, and the seed was planted. I go back to this image from time to time as a reminder of what got things started.

Here’s what I looked like back then.


Brian Rose self portrait (35mm Kodachrome) — 1972

New York/Arcaid Competition

I did not win the Arcaid architecture photograph of the year competition. The winner was just announced in Berlin — Terrence Zhang — a Chinese photographer who, somehow, managed to have three images in the final 20.


Arcaid 2017 competition winner– photo by Terrence Zhang

I was curious to see whether the attendees at the World Architecture Festival would choose something purely architectural and/or compositional, or something with social/political content. They went with the former — a beautiful, atmospheric, classically symmetrical image.

Here is my submission.


North wall of the Revel casino, Atlantic City — © Brian Rose

All 20 of the shortlisted photographs will be exhibited in London and Beijing.

New York/Berlin


Arcaid shortlisted photos, World Architecture Festival, Berlin

This picture popped up on my twitter feed just a little while ago. It’s the installation of the finalists for the Arcaid architecture photograph award at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin.

That’s my picture at the far right. Attendees of the festival vote for their favorite photograph, and the winner is announced at a gala dinner that closes the event.

New York/Meatpacking District

Curbed has done a video about the Meatpacking District and my photography. It’s a little slick, perhaps, but hey, I’m a slick kind of guy. We put quite a bit of work into this video — out in the street, and in the studio. Those are the actual Meatpacking negatives on the lightbox, and that is my super lightweight Toyo 4×5 camera in use.

My book, Metamorphosis, Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013 is still available — about 100 left.

New York/Frame Shop


Meatpacking District image, Laumont Photographics, Long Island City — © Brian Rose

It’s always great to see prints like these go out the door. I was there to place a signature label on the mounted print. They cut a window in the backing board to provide access to the signature.


Signature window in backing board — © Brian Rose

New York/The Guardian

The Arcaid architecture photography award gets a lot of media attention — showing the finalists — not just the winner, which will be chosen in November. Many of the websites that do features are architecturally oriented, but some general news sites take an interest as well. The Guardian did a really nice presentation the other day with comments from readers.


Someone said my photograph was only good because of the two shacks, which is true.

A lot of the discussion centered on whether these were photographs about architecture or photographs that utilize architecture for other purposes. My favorite comment was this one:

New York/Meatpacking District


G
ansevoort and Washington Street — Photo by Justin Brooks (Curbed)

Was out with my view camera in the Meatpacking District shooting a video for Curbed, the blog on urban life and architecture. The completed video, which will be about the transformation of the neighborhood and my project photographing it, will only be a few minutes long, but we put at least eight hours into it — footage on the street and in the studio, and an audio interview. I’ll let you know when the video is available.


Meatpacking District negatives — © Brian Rose

The story, for those who don’t know it, is that I photographed the Meatpacking District over several cold days in January of 1985. I processed the film, but never printed any of it. The negatives sat in a Kodak box on my shelf for almost 30 years, when on a whim, I decided to scan them and see what was there.

I was stunned to discover — or rediscover — an exquisitely decrepit New York utterly devoid of people and traffic. The contrast with the present day city was so extreme that I decided to rephotograph the Meatpacking District — repeating the original images with a few variations — and adding a number of contemporary views. The result is my book Metamorphosis, Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013.

New York/Atlantic City


Trump Plaza wall — © Brian Rose

I returned to Atlantic City to continue working on my project — Atlantic City: In the Wake of Destruction Left by Donald Trump. I intended to spend part of my time on the Boardwalk, which in mid-August is filled with people and activity. But I ended up mostly on Pacific and Arctic Avenues just to the west of the beach. Even at the height of the summer, the streets were strangely quiet.

The photograph above was taken in the area adjacent to an immense outlet mall and a large fishing and camping store — efforts by the city to generate tourism and commercial activity. The former Trump Plaza stands empty, a black and white shell, its parking structure denuded of the Trump logo, though its possible to just make out the letters to the left and right of Trump’s golden crest.


Caesars Casino Hotel — © Brian Rose

Next to Trump Plaza is Caesars, a casino still doing business on the Boardwalk, Atlantic City’s homage to the Roman Forum.


Pacific Avenue — © Brian Rose

Just a block or two from Caesars and Trump Plaza — the white tower in the background — it’s a different world. Junkies and alcoholics mingle on the corners while beach goers drift toward the Boardwalk carrying umbrellas and towels. The arched wall at center is the site of the former Trump’s World’s Fair, another failed casino.


Arctic Avenue — © Brian Rose

A vacant building and empty lot just behind the outlet malls on Christopher Columbus Boulevard. In the distance is the Sheraton Hotel, which primarily serves the Atlantic City convention center. A man approached from a shop just to the left of the pink structure and asked what I was doing. it turned out he was the owner of the place called The Fishmarket. I explained a little about my project, and asked him whether he thought Atlantic City was coming up or going down. He gave a thumbs up, and told me that business was good. I don’t know if I share his optimism, but I felt encouraged by his attitude, nevertheless.


White House, Arctic Avenue — © Brian Rose

Just in the next block, the neighborhood of Ducktown remains largely intact with densely packed blocks of row houses. On the corner is White House Subs, which was probably not Donald Trump’s inspiration to run for the presidency. It is, however, a wonderfully funky and happening sub shop, which was packed with a diverse melange of people at lunch time.


White House (Brendan and Renee) — © Brian Rose

My family came along on this trip — I deposited them on the beach while I was shooting — and we had lunch at White House Subs.


White House (with Jimmy Fallon) — © Brian Rose

Across from me in the booth a grinning Jimmy Fallon from 10 years ago looked me in the eye holding one of White House’s classic Italian subs. Yes!

New York/Photo Books

A couple of book notes. WTC, my latest book, was included in the Athens Photo Festival this summer. The selected books were placed on tables in the gallery so that viewers could pick them up and page through them. It would have been fun to go to Greece, but I’ve had a busy summer.


Athens Photo Festival

WTC is available for sale on my website. PLEASE GET YOUR COPY. 

And one of my photographs has been selected for what promises to be a terrific photo book about Brooklyn. Brooklyn Photographs Now, written and edited by Marla Hamburg Kennedy features the work of well known and emerging photographers. Some of the recognizable names include Joel Sternfeld, Mitch Epstein, and Joel Meyerowitz. Lots of newcomers as well.

From the Rizzoli website:

Brooklyn has seen exponential change over the past fifteen years, and this book presents the best work of the photographers from all over the world who have been capturing those changes and movements in cityscapes, portraits, vignettes, and process-oriented photography.

The book will be out in the Spring of 2018. You can read more about it here.

New York/Coney Island 1977

I’m just going to park these here with only a few specific comments. It’s a very quiet, very spare series of pictures. Rather than the raucous sounds of an amusement park, it feels hushed, somnolent. Rather than throngs of people crowding the rides and games, it is almost empty, desolate.

In the fourth picture, on the wall it says “Film by Ray Wisniewski.” He was an avant grade filmmaker of the ’60s and ’70s. Associated with Andy Warhol. Was I was aware of who he was? Possibly. I can’t recall.

Below, Uncle Sam says he wants you to win. See Dracula’s head chopped off. Bar & Grill. Screechy Nell and Shaggy Sam. Clams on the half shell. Corn on the cob. Spook-A-Rama menu.


Coney Island, 1977 — © Brian Rose


Coney Island, 1977 — Brian Rose


Coney Island, 1977 — © Brian Rose


Coney Island, 1977 — © Brian Rose


Coney Island, 1977 — © Brian Rose


Coney Island, 1977 — © Brian Rose


Coney Island, 1977 — © Brian Rose


Coney Island, 1977 — © Brian Rose


Coney Island, 1977 © Brian Rose


Coney Island, 1977 — © Brian Rose


Coney Island, 1977 — © Brian Rose

New York/Coney Island 1977


The Thunderbolt roller coaster, Coney Island, 1977 — © Brian Rose

The last black and white photographs I took were in 1977 when I first came to New York. After that it has all been color — 35mm in the beginning, and 4×5 negative up until the present. I was in a hurry in those days, and just did not get around to printing the black and white I was shooting. I took a class taught by Larry Fink, who constantly told me to move in closer, and I insisted on staying back. (I love Larry Fink.)

All I remember is that I made lots of walks with my camera in downtown Manhattan, and I took the subway to far flung parts of the city. Inevitably, I ended up in Coney Island, which was a gloriously decrepit wreck of a place in the late 70s. Much of it was abandoned, though there were still rides, funhouses, cotton candy and Nathan’s hotdogs. The Cyclone and the Thunderbolt roller coasters were still running, clattering wooden structures that did not inspire confidence in their safety.


The Parachute Jump, Coney Island, 1977 — © Brian Rose

I’m not exactly sure when these pictures were made. It was obviously still warm, but the summer crowds are not present in the pictures. So, I’m guessing it was September or early October. As run down as Coney Island was, I wasn’t necessarily documenting social conditions. I had just arrived in New York, and I accepted the shabby state of things as normal. I was interested in the texture of the cityscape as raw visual material, and I carefully, albeit quickly, made rigorously formal compositions.


The Thunderbolt roller coaster, Coney Island, 1977 — © Brian Rose

One of the great things about Coney Island — then and now — is the dense urban structure of it. The city streets run right to the boardwalk and beach, and there are narrow alleys and passageways. Most present day amusement parks are, not coincidentally, parks. They are built adjacent to freeways, are surrounded by huge parking lots, and feature pastoral landscapes. Coney Island is an urban playground, like Times Square, and in 1977 it had some of that same allure of sex and danger. The increasing prosperity of the city has drained some of that “authenticity” out of Coney Island, but it remains a crazy quilt of planned and spontaneous urban profusion.


From the Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island, 1977 — © Brian Rose


Coney Island boardwalk, 1977 — © Brian Rose


From the Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island, 1977 — © Brian Rose

I kind of want a larger format negative — or high resolution digital — with more detail for these images, especially the one above. But they are beautiful, nevertheless. Atmospheric tokens of another time, a young photographer finding his way in a city teetering on the edge, a wondrous rediscovery for me all these years later.

More Coney Island pictures to come.

New York/Black and White 1977


New York, unknown location, 1977 — © Brian Rose

Although my early black and whites are without question documents of time and place, I did not, as a student, consider myself a documentary photographer. There was never any question about the goal, which was to make photographs as art. Not some hybrid mixed media animal — though I did make a painting in school where I stuck a photograph onto the canvas — but photographs pure and simple — crystallized reality, but not reality at the same time. To me, there was power in that. I still think there is power in that.


East 41st Street, 1977 — © Brian Rose

One of the basic, and profound, truths of photography is that the moment preserved, is fleeting. It seems “decisive,” to quote Cartier Bresson, but it remains fugitive, unknowable, When I look at the man above crossing the street in the fedora (they were not so common even in 1977) I cannot know what he is thinking, or where her is going, or just came from. But he strides, nevertheless, through the frame as if there is meaning. It is an awkward meaning in a slightly awkward composition, but somehow compelling, cinematic. To me. Maybe not for you. I’m keeping this one in the mix for now.


Tudor City Place, 1977 — © Brian Rose

New York was a mess in 1977, and you can see it in many of these pictures — in the scraggly vegetation in the parks, the trash on the streets and sidewalks, the frayed edges of the landscape. But the photograph above was not a critique on the condition of the city. I was aware, of course, that a small tree lay uprooted in the left foreground of my picture. It’s a notation, not central to the motive for the photograph. There are two verticals — the trees — and a tangle of limbs, benches, and shadows in between. There is a perfect sunlit square hovering left of center. Several people bask in the winter light, talking, dozing.


East 41st Street, 1977 — © Brian Rose


East 68th Street, 1977 — © Brian Rose


Tudor City Place, 1977 — © Brian Rose

I wanted the camera frame to take in everything evenly — non hierarchical. This was learned from Friedlander especially, and my teacher at Cooper, Meyerowitz. Composition was not just side to side, but front to back as well. Each shot was an experiment in seeing and describing the fabric of things not necessarily the things themselves.


East 40th Street, 1977 — © Brian Rose

I look at many of the pictures I made in 1977 and wonder what the hell I was thinking. Pointing the camera at what seems like nothing. Baffling to me now.

But then — there’s the image above…

 

New York/Fordham Road 1977


Fordham Road and the Grand Concourse, The Bronx, 1977 — © Brian Rose

As I was scanning my 35mm black and white negatives from 1977 I came across a series of images that I could not locate in the city, at least at first. I remember roaming the five boroughs with my camera, sometimes taking the subway to the end of the line, with no particular goal in mind other than satisfying my curiosity.

Looking at the image above, I was not sure where it was — and I could not remember ever taking it. I knew it was not Manhattan because of the relatively low buildings and the fact that the street was passing underneath my position behind a balustrade and a row of telephone booths. That doesn’t happen often in Manhattan. But having spent a lot of time in the Bronx the past few years going to my son’s basketball and baseball games, I knew it had to somewhere along the Grand Concourse, the broad boulevard that runs through the center of the borough.


Fordham Road, The Bronx, 1977 — © Brian Rose

Bisecting the Concourse is Fordham Road, a busy shopping street that for a half mile or so defines the southern edge of the Fordham University campus. In 1977 it was a visually cacophonous place, and it still is today. The creeping blight, the fires and abandonment, of the South Bronx never made it up to Fordham Road though it threatened.

The RKO Fordham Theatre was showing Star Wars, the cultural touchstone that premiered in 1977. The theater was demolished years ago and replaced by a nondescript retail building. And back then, there were still stores that specialized in “hosiery.”


Fordham Road and the Grand Concourse, The Bronx, 1977 — © Brian Rose

Alexander’s was a big discount department store that dominated the corner of Fordham Road and the Grand Concourse. The building is still there, but divided up into smaller retail outlets. That’s a Checker Cab to the left and Ford Mustang to the right.


Fordham Road, 1977 — © Brian Rose

Hair on Face Removed Forever. We Dissolve the Roots. These buildings are still there, but the Dollar Savings Bank is now an Apple Bank, and the parapet decorations to the right have either been stripped off or are obscured by new cladding.


Fordham Road/Grand Concourse area, The Bronx, 1977 — © Brian Rose


The Grand Concourse, The Bronx, 1977 — © Brian Rose

I was able to locate this photograph by reversing it in Photoshop and identifying the Ascot Theater across the street. It was demolished in 2016.


The Grand Concourse, The Bronx, 1977 — © Brian Rose

This one was hard to find, but I eventually located a small triangular park on Google street view at 181 Street and the Grand Concourse. It’s still scruffy looking, but there are now a half dozen trees behind the benches.

New York/1977


Madison Avenue and 41st Street, 1977 — © Brian Rose

A story I’ve told many times — 40 years ago, today, i arrived in New York and found an apartment on East 4th Street between the Bowery and Second Avenue. At 9:34PM the lights went out, and I spent the night in Penn Station unable to get my train back down to Washington, D.C. where I  was living at the time. It was eerie in the station, but there were cops around, and I was unaware of the riots and fires raging elsewhere. A few days later I was back to this scarred and battered city with my stuff, mostly clothes, a guitar, and photography materials.

I set up a darkroom in the bedroom of my tiny apartment, and that summer began roaming the street with a 35mm Nikkormat, mostly shooting Tri-X film.I didn’t print much of it, however, because I had already begun working in color, and I soon left black and white photography behind for good. This is the second installment of scans made from that work — most of it from 1977 and 1978. As I said in an earlier blog post, I do not remember taking any of these pictures. It’s like discovering an unknown self intently searching for a style, for a formal approach, for a subject, which to a great extent turned out to be New York City.


Lexington Avenue Line, 1977 — © Brian Rose


Unknown location, 1977 — ©˙Brian Rose


East 43rd Street across from the United Nations, 1977 — © Brian Rose


158th Street, The Bronx, Yankee Stadium, 1977 — © Brian Rose

1977 — it was the summer of Son of Sam the serial killer, the Bronx was burning, and the Yankees won the World Series. It was my entree to a city that would become central to my life and career. In that first year or two I attended Cooper Union, wrote songs and hung out in clubs with my friends, met my musical comrades in arms, Jack Hardy and Suzanne Vega, and took a lot of photographs. In 1980 I teamed up with Ed Fausty to photograph the Lower East Side in color using a 4×5 view camera. It was an exciting time — though wistful nostalgia is tempered by the fact — which I have not forgotten — that it was also a difficult time, financially and emotionally.

Stay tuned for more pictures.