PDN Photo of the Day

Street Photos of Surreal Coincidences

Coincidences, the first monograph from American photographer Jonathan Higbee, featured more than ten years of photos he has shot on the streets of New York City. He calls the book his love letter to New York.  Higbee obsessively looked for and captured moments of serendipity when people and their surroundings collide in humorous and often extraordinary ways.

At first glance Higbee’s street photography falls right in line with the generations of street photographers who came before him – the images feature witty visual flukes. But unlike the strictly reportage style photographers that coined the genre, Higbee doesn’t hesitate to “[clone] 
out text, like a building sign, if it’s really freaking annoying and distracting from the moment that actually happened,” as he explains in the afterword of this book.

But while there is cloning here and there he does insist that nothing is set up or choreographed. To get the images Higbee has staked out the location and lingered for minutes, hours, and in some cases returned day after day (for months!), to get what he wants.

The resulting images depict the interplay between New Yorkers often lost in their own worlds: moving through crowded intersections, past street signs and advertising billboards, and more; as they hustle to get to work, home or their next appointment. Higbee painstakingly and artfully captures fleeting juxtapositions that take on more meaning through the lens of his camera.

In Higbee’s New York, a dancer performs on a stage of trash, graffiti unfurls from a backpack, a father and son hide their faces with cotton candy, and a giant walks the streets of the city. Each photograph captures the wit, joy and surrealism of everyday life in an often-chaotic metropolis.

Higbee says Coincidences started as coping mechanism “When I moved to New York, I was completely overwhelmed, overstimulated, and anxious. I loved every second of it. (…) I used the camera to distill the chaos and overwhelming nature of New York into something that I could understand and process.” What started as therapy though, ended in tribute.

Jonathan Higbee
Anthology Editions (December 2019)
Book signing December 11 6-8pm (Higbee will be in conversation with Harvey Stein) at the Rizzoli Bookstore in New York.

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