It’s safe to say that most everybody eats and enjoys pizza. It’s a food that transcends nationality, political and religious differences, and class.
I like the childlike enthusiasm and messiness that it inspires. I like that it’s a homemade food that many quality places offer at a price that does't burn a hole in my wallet. I love the variety of styles. And of course, I love how great pizza looks in pictures.
These photos are all from spots in New York City. For more – and for written stories about pizza and other food topics – please check out my blog, pizzacentric.com.
When I'm commissioned to make photos for a publication, agency, or food-related business, my goal is to create allure. I work with a number of talented food stylists and can incorporate their services into an estimate. For more limited budgets or when chefs prefer to plate food themselves, I’m happy to go it alone.
I love to photograph food passion and food action. Whether it’s the guy at Brennan & Carr who with native-Brooklyn-cool employs tongs to dunk your entire roast beef sandwich (including the bun!) into a basin of hot beef jus. Or Joe Ades, the vegetable peeler salesman (now deceased) who earned his living not just thanks due to the superiority of those peelers, but because of his infectious personality. Of course, it's also the hoards of people who wait in long lines at restaurants in cities around the world all because they want what these places have.
Photographs made for Dulce de Leche, an amazing Argentine bakery in West New York, NJ.
The empanadas (baked, not fried) are way better than any I’ve had in NYC, the ultra-thin “sandwiches de miga” are superior to any I had in Buenos Aire, and the cakes, pastries, and any and all of the items that employ dulce de leche – well, they’re good enough to give me a sweet tooth – and that’s not usually my thing.
Chateau d’Uzer, a “chambre d’hôte” located in Ardèche, France, was owned by Eric and Muriel Chevalier, two extraordinary people whose array of talents, continuous hard work, exquisite taste in decor and food, and relaxed approach to service meant that every visitor was guaranteed a magical experience.
In 2007, I trailed alongside Eric and Muriel for a couple of days to make new photos for their website. It was impossible not to be blown away by the breadth of the work that they did: dealing with a last-minute cancellation by making calls to people on a wait list, accounting in the office, shopping at a farmers’ market and a nearby farm, tasting and buying wine, picking herbs out back, scooping frogs from the pool with a net, cooking just about all of the time, serving guests breakfast, and on certain evenings serving one dinner for children and a second (5 course) meal for adults.
The place is still there – and I’ve no doubt it is still lovely (and visit-worthy) – but Eric and Muriel sold it to a new owner in 2013. So for me it could never be the same.
(Eric and Muriel continue to operate a gîte property in the same region – link is here.)
I love it when multiple elements – either logical or disparate (it doesn’t matter) – combine within the background or alongside the featured person to add layers. I also like people who, all on their own without any help from me, exude character. The funny thing is... most people have oodles of character!
I’ve been photographing my friend Alex, his parents and his brothers, and their friends and cousins in their home in Williamsburg for the past 15+ years.
Each floor has an apartment with a different family member. Alex lives on the 4th floor, his parents on the 2nd, and his brothers on 1 & 3. His great aunts used to live on the first floor but they passed away.
Alex and his brothers grew up in this house. There was another brother but he died as a child – he was hit by a car while riding his bike. I didn't know Alex then and I have no idea how he and his family were able to make it through the sadness.
I love visiting this house and I love Alex and his family. His dad has made dozens of miniature wood churches. He even wires some of them with lights. There’s a workshop with many tools in the basement. Everyone hangs his/her clothes to dry on rope lines that run parallel but above the inner hall bannisters. There are lots of plants. One of Alex's brothers makes paintings of naked people. He has a couple of birds, too.
Besides wanting to see my friend, the other reason I especially like to visit Alex's house is the love that has evolved over time between me and my wife and Alex’s parents, Carmen & Jose. We're always very happy to see each other. Sometimes, perhaps once a year, when we're able to plan in advance, Carmen cooks dinner for us. She even lets us invite friends. Her bacalao (salt cod) stewed with onions and peppers, her tostones (fried plantains lightly sprinkled with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt), and her rice with pigeon peas... you can't find better renditions of these things anywhere. Seriously.
Many of these photos are from the late 1990s and were shot on film. I have more newer ones but still need to decide which ones of those contribute best to the story.
This set of photos is as much a testament to the warmth of the Argentine people as it is to the quality and power of things when they're made in an old way.
I went to this place not to do a photo story, but to buy some shoes. But within moments of my asking the owner a few questions about the shoes and how they're made, he and his son insisted that my wife and I take a tour of the entire facility – all of which is right behind the shop.
Correa, as the shop is called, will make shoes custom fit to your feet (see 4th photo), but I wasn't going to be in Buenos Aires long enough to have that done.
So I ended up buying a pair of brown suede desert boots (they’re the ones getting “cured” by fire in the first photo; they cost me US $100 and fit perfectly). Sadly, I passed on the green leather ones (see 2nd photo, just beyond the desert boots) – I continue to regret that decision.
Throughout my 25+ years living in New York I’ve rarely left my apartment without bringing a camera. My hope is always the same: to capture truthful moments that tell of this place and the ways in which its people coëxist. Young and old, native and new, naïve and hardened – I love that New York has every type, every culture, every normalness and and every weirdness represented. In order to experience it, all you need to do is step out onto the sidewalk and start walking.
I do fear that New York, with its hyper-escalating real estate prices, has become more and more monochromatic in the kinds of people who are able to make a start here. So with my camera, I now find myself searching for evidence of both what it's becoming and what it's always been.
These pictures are from late 2013 to present. Most are from below 14th Street or Brooklyn. I update the mix frequently. It’s a work in progress.
Two things initially drew me to New York City from my hometown of Washington, DC: my grandma, who lived in Bayside, Queens (when I was young I visited her a bunch of times; we would take the train into Manhattan),... and the subway.
(I'd like to write a story about her one day. She was the original intrepid eating adventurer in my family.)
But this section is about the subway – the other great New York presence that called me and called me until finally I figured it out and moved here.
Why do I love the subway so much? Because it works (except when it doesn't), because of the extent of its tracks, because it’s open 24/7, because for one fare you can ride from the bottom of Brooklyn to the top of the Bronx and still transfer for free to a bus, because it carries the diversity of New York City in tight quarters with everyone and everything on display. I love the tension, the ancient infrastructure that for the most part people barely seem to notice, and the fact that so much of this subway is aboveground.
I realize I'm no Walker Evans. But we also do not live in Walker Evans' era. Now, passengers gaze at devices and not so much at newspapers. Physical add-ons collude with that old infrastructure and present juxtapositions as if the whole system is one big exposed archeological dig and we're all tourists here on a visit. Well some of that is the truth. New York has many tourists. But it also has many workers and schoolchildren and people out shopping. It's got it all and it's got all these people and many of them, many many of them... are in the subway.