George Steinmetz’s usual vehicle for flying is a motorized paraglider—using one, he’s shot deserts from Peru to China, from Ethiopia to Antarctica for his “Desert Air” project. He regularly contributes his exploration photography to National Geographic and GEO Magazine. But Steinmetz, a New Jersey resident, stayed closer to home for the series “New York Air,” published this fall as a book from Abrams and on view at Anastasia Photo in New York until January 31 (Steinmetz is signing books at the gallery on December 8).
Made from a small helicopter, the New York images hover above iconic spots, transforming the city into abstractions—the taxicab parking lot at JFK becomes a study in syncopated yellow; Calvary Cemetery in Queens is a delicate pattern of sun and shadow on snow. Other images are more legible and picturesque—neat rows of brownstones in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, are studded with pastel trees in spring bloom. Steinmetz’s photos stand out for their focus on the crowded texture of everyday life and leisure in the city, from a crush of movie-going picnickers in Bryant Park to golfers stacked three stories high at Chelsea Piers. Steinmetz has photographed many the city’s classic places, but as he writes in a statement, “a definitive portrait of the city would be impossible as it is going through [a] major construction boom, with its new skyline and waterfront landscape, dazzling contemporary architecture,” leaving the series open for continuation, like the city itself.
The Technical Ingenuity of National Geographic’s Photo Engineering Department (for PDN subscribers; Log in required)