NYC Field Trip: Harlem 2018-2019

This week's newsletter is focused on a trip to Harlem in 2019 but the story begins during a trip to the area the previous year.

NYC Field Trip: Harlem 2018-2019
Harlem, New York. 2019

Archival Recordings 18

In Archival Recordings 17 I shared some work I created on a visit to Brooklyn in 2018. This week's newsletter is focused on a separate trip to Harlem in 2019 but the story begins during that initial trip the previous year.

Young Couple. Harlem, New York. 2018

When I visited NYC for the NYT Portfolio review in 2018, one of the comments I received about my work was about the lack of people in my photographs. It wasn't exactly a criticism but more of an acknowledgement during what was a generally positive discussion of my work. Up until that time that was an intentional omission since my body work was exclusively focused on the built environment but something about that idea stuck with me. The more I thought about it the larger it loomed in my mind as an idea to explore, but I wanted to do it on my terms and in a way that tied into my work. The following day I decided to put a few ideas I had into practice.

Harlem, New York. 2018.

My first stop was The Metropolitan Museum of Art. There was a William Eggleston exhibition on display and I could think of no better way to get my mind in the right headspace for a day of shooting. After a morning at the museum, I cut through Central Park and emerged at my destination. A spring day in Harlem was the perfect space for me to experiment and develop the proper approach to incorporating people into my documentary landscape photography. My goal was to capture scenes as a whole that balanced people with their surroundings. The photos I took that day were hit or miss in this regard but I feel like I made some progress towards that goal.

Pedestrian. Harlem, New York. 2018.

Flash forward to the summer of 2019, I was sent to attend a conference for my day job in Philadelphia (a great city in it's own right and a future newsletter subject). I arranged to have an extra day in the city and used it to take the train into NYC. Ever since my previous visit, I had been eager to return to Harlem to get another shot at documenting this iconic part of the city.

New York City is a magical place and Harlem in particular is like nowhere else on earth. The technique that I had refined in the year between visits paid dividends during my return to the area. And in the years since the visual balance that I initially sought has evolved become the cornerstone of my photography practice.

In retrospect, these photographs have a special significance as 2019 was the last summer before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The experience inspired me to create my "Last Summer in NYC" zine, which is still available for purchase in the online shop.


Last newsletter I promised an update on the second Archival Recordings zine but I have decided to use the next full newsletter to go into detail on the zine and zine-making workflow in general. Zine 02 is expected to be back from the printer and mailed out to my paid subscribers sometime next week.

Thanks for reading as always, stay safe out there y'all.