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Phil Douglis | profile | all galleries >> Gallery Sixty Eight: A city portrait -- impressions of New York tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Gallery Sixty Eight: A city portrait -- impressions of New York




This is the first in a series of city portraits I will be adding to this cyberbook on expressive travel photography. Just as a portrait of a person must attempt to define personality and character, a portrait of a city must do likewise. I chose New York City as my first urban portrait because we go back in time together. I lived and worked in New York more than fifty years ago, and have revisited the city time and time again and watch it continue to change and evolve over the decades. As a young photographer, I first depicted the city on slide film, back at a time when I still made descriptive, rather than interpretive images. In 1959, I tried to show what the city looked like, rather than what it meant to me, or how I felt about it. In the spring of 2009, I returned to New York along with my friend and pbase artist Tim May. We both agreed that we were seeing – and photographing -- the city through new eyes. This time, I attempted to define the character and personality of New York in interpretive terms – to offer not only a sense of place, but also convey my impressions of how this place feels and functions.

We spent a full week shooting in New York, concentrating solely on the Borough of Manhattan. Manhattan is only one of New York City’s five boroughs – but it is the part that’s most familiar to viewers around the world: the business, historical, cultural, and entertainment center of the USA’s largest metropolitan area. My goal here is not to make a comprehensive documentation of this city. Instead, I offer a series of interpretive photographs that express the personality and character of the city as I perceive them.

There were sixty-eight photographs originally posted in this gallery. I am continuing to add more images to this gallery following subsequent visits to New York. Images made during my most recent trips to the city will appear at the beginning of the gallery. I use both black and white and color imagery to tell my story, and sequence and pace the images so they can add context to each other and produce cumulative meaning.

I hope that this city portrait, as well as those to follow, will help other travel photographers use interpretive photography to reveal the nature of the cities that they will visit.


I present this gallery, as usual, in "blog" style. A large thumbnail is displayed for each image, along with a caption explaining how I intended to express my ideas. If you click on the large thumbnail, you can see it in its full size, as well as leave comments and read the comments of others. I hope you will be able to participate in the dialogue. I welcome your comments, suggestions, ideas, and questions, and will be delighted to respond.