New York on 35MM Film: The Photos I Hold Dear

My hard drive is filled with tens-of-thousands of photographs of New York City and its residents. 

It's impossible to say which ones are my favorites. Each photo is a time capsule that reminds me of how things were; others are a trajectory point that shows the direction of where things are going.

Nevertheless, the photos of New York City that I treasure the most were shot on film

It's not because they look better. No, some of my best photos are digital photos. It's because of what these 35mm frames represent for me: Sacrifice.

I found myself near-poverty after college. Six-figures of student loan debt coupled with a low-paying job forced me into an illegal basement apartment. Art was my only outlet. 

When I bought or processed a roll of film, it meant skipping a meal to do so. Each photograph that I took was carefully considered. In a way, this deliberation forced me to learn my craft more quickly.

I'm grateful for how things turned out.

New York is a wonderful city that is full of opportunities (and I caught some lucky breaks). But, I haven't forgotten those tough times (and I know unlucky breaks are the other side of the same coin).

Here are some of the 35mm photos that I took during the early- to mid-2000s. Whether you’re a New Yorker or not, I hope that you appreciate them in some way:


Waverly Restaurant

One of the first photos that I took in New York, photographed when I was a freshman at NYU.

One of the first photos that I took in New York, photographed when I was a freshman at NYU.


Commuters

During the winter, the low sun angles itself into the Astor Place subway stop.

During the winter, the low sun angles itself into the Astor Place subway stop.


The Gapstow Bridge

I love this photo of the Gapstow Bridge. It makes me think of what New York would look like if the city was abandoned. Central Park is one of the rare places in Manhattan where you can find yourself completely alone.

I love this photo of the Gapstow Bridge. It makes me think of what New York would look like if the city was abandoned. Central Park is one of the rare places in Manhattan where you can find yourself completely alone.


A Salon in Brooklyn

Photographed in Park Slope in the summer of 2005.

Photographed in Park Slope in the summer of 2005.


A Tunnel in the New York Public Library

The tunnels in the New York Public Library on 42nd Street can look like a dungeon, especially when long photographic exposures cause your film to color shift to a bloody red.

The tunnels in the New York Public Library on 42nd Street can look like a dungeon, especially when long photographic exposures cause your film to color shift to a bloody red.


Fixing a Bike on the Avenue of the Americas

This was photographed on Kodachrome 64 slide film.

This was photographed on Kodachrome 64 slide film.


A Rose of Remembrance

I remember feeling disgusted when I visited Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2004. Throngs of tourists were taking smiling-selfies in front of the Tribute in Lights. I escaped the crowds and found this solitary rose: fitting for a young grave.

I remember feeling disgusted when I visited Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2004. Throngs of tourists were taking smiling-selfies in front of the Tribute in Lights. I escaped the crowds and found this solitary rose: fitting for a young grave.


Cheap Seats at Yankee Stadium

Sitting in the bleachers at the old Yankee Stadium was an affordable luxury.

Sitting in the bleachers at the old Yankee Stadium was an affordable luxury.


A Chair in Bryant Park

If you want to be alone in the city, just go where there is mud.

If you want to be alone in the city, just go where there is mud.


New York Lottery

Photographed at a newspaper kiosk on MacDougal Street.

Photographed at a newspaper kiosk on MacDougal Street.


Spoiled Dinner Plans

New Yorkers know how it feels to find themselves shut out of their own apartment building.

New Yorkers know how it feels to find themselves shut out of their own apartment building.


Colorful Row Houses in Greenpoint

Photographed on Kodak Gold 100 negative film.

Photographed on Kodak Gold 100 negative film.


An Ambulance in the Rain

There is no backstory to this photograph, but the timing of it produced a haunting idea: Emergency workers rushing into a place that everyone else is rushing out of.

There is no backstory to this photograph, but the timing of it produced a haunting idea: Emergency workers rushing into a place that everyone else is rushing out of.


Taxi Fare

Fifteen years ago, a taxi was an unaffordable luxury for me.

Fifteen years ago, a taxi was an unaffordable luxury for me.


Sunset Behind the Flatiron Building

If you ever find yourself in the city basking in a bizarre yellow glow (like you were wearing sunglasses), stop what you’re doing and look up. Mammatus clouds may be forming.

If you ever find yourself in the city basking in a bizarre yellow glow (like you were wearing sunglasses), stop what you’re doing and look up. Mammatus clouds may be forming.


View From the Empire State Building

Photographed in April 2002 on Kodachrome 25 slide film.

Photographed in April 2002 on Kodachrome 25 slide film.


A Vintage Car in the Bronx

New York City was full of empty lots when I first moved here. Today, many of those lots are condominiums.

New York City was full of empty lots when I first moved here. Today, many of those lots are condominiums.


School Buses in the Snow

Kids around the city must have been excited going to bed that night. Snow day!

Kids around the city must have been excited going to bed that night. Snow day!


A Tribute in Lights

This was a long exposure shot on ISO 100 film. Those swirling white lines are birds and bugs that were attracted to the intensity of the lights.

This was a long exposure shot on ISO 100 film. Those swirling white lines are birds and bugs that were attracted to the intensity of the lights.


Dog Skiing in Prospect Park

The spectator in the background of this photo was just as surprised to see this as I was.

The spectator in the background of this photo was just as surprised to see this as I was.


Accidental Graffiti

A colorful fence in Long Island City.

A colorful fence in Long Island City.


Rockefeller Center in Fog

30 Rockefeller Plaza is one of the most majestic buildings in New York.

30 Rockefeller Plaza is one of the most majestic buildings in New York.


Pretty and Gritty

In what other city would you see flowers on the sill of a boarded-up window?

In what other city would you see flowers on the sill of a boarded-up window?


NYPD

I photographed this police officer during the Yankee’s 1999 World Series championship parade. I often wonder if he survived the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

I photographed this police officer during the Yankee’s 1999 World Series championship parade. I often wonder if he survived the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.


FDR Drive at Night

This photo was taken from the Manhattan Bridge during the 2005 New York City transit strike. I remember being very cold and tired as I walked from Manhattan back to Windsor Terrace (Brooklyn).

This photo was taken from the Manhattan Bridge during the 2005 New York City transit strike. I remember being very cold and tired as I walked from Manhattan back to Windsor Terrace (Brooklyn).


Peephole

It amazes me that most Americans will go their entire lives without looking through a peephole.

It amazes me that most Americans will go their entire lives without looking through a peephole.


135 East 57th Street

I always struggle to remember the name of this building…because it doesn’t have one.

I always struggle to remember the name of this building…because it doesn’t have one.


Snow Covered Bike

Photographed at 1 a.m. on Feb. 12, 2006: one of the biggest snowstorms in New York City history.

Photographed at 1 a.m. on Feb. 12, 2006: one of the biggest snowstorms in New York City history.


Remembering the Fallen

Photographed on Sept. 11, 2004.

Photographed on Sept. 11, 2004.


Sunset Over Greenwood Cemetery

If it weren’t for the radio tower in the distance, Greenwood Cemetery would be one of the only places in New York City without something manmade in the skyline.

If it weren’t for the radio tower in the distance, Greenwood Cemetery would be one of the only places in New York City without something manmade in the skyline.


Yellow Cab Depot

I took this photo while looking for an alternative way to work after disembarking an F-train on which a passenger died.

I took this photo while looking for an alternative way to work after disembarking an F-train on which a passenger died.


Tattered American Flag

Photographed on Fujichrome Provia and cross-processed.

Photographed on Fujichrome Provia and cross-processed.


Cold Dog

Photographed after the February 2006 New York City Blizzard. This dog looked like he was left outside all night, but his master was only gone for a minute or two.

Photographed after the February 2006 New York City Blizzard. This dog looked like he was left outside all night, but his master was only gone for a minute or two.


Bonneville in the Snow

Fuji Superia Reala was one of my favorite films. Reds, whites and blues really popped.

Fuji Superia Reala was one of my favorite films. Reds, whites and blues really popped.


Stencil Graffiti

This type of stenciled street-art is so common now, but this is the first example that I remember seeing.

This type of stenciled street-art is so common now, but this is the first example that I remember seeing.


Reflections on the Hudson

This photo was taken in Weehawken, NJ. The colors in the Hudson River are a reflection of the New York City skyline. The wooden pylons are remnants of an old pier.

This photo was taken in Weehawken, NJ. The colors in the Hudson River are a reflection of the New York City skyline. The wooden pylons are remnants of an old pier.


Clover Trading

A typical New York scene, photographed in the summer of 2005.

A typical New York scene, photographed in the summer of 2005.


Blizzard Party

A colorful oasis in Brooklyn on a cold, grey winter night.

A colorful oasis in Brooklyn on a cold, grey winter night.


Lightship Ambrose

A classic fixture of the South Street Seaport. Photographed on Kodachrome 25 in 2002.

A classic fixture of the South Street Seaport. Photographed on Kodachrome 25 in 2002.


Beneath the Empire State Building

The Empire State Building, photographed on Kodachrome 25 in April 2002.

The Empire State Building, photographed on Kodachrome 25 in April 2002.