One of the most iconic cities in the world, the Big Apple is full of widely portrayed cliches – the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge.
As a result, snapshots of these sights are now somewhat outdated—something one New Yorker has sought to correct with a new image-focused volume, New York Unseen.
The book features 200 pages of evocative photographs by Luke Cordas, who capture the spirit of the city rather than the usual guidebook scenes.
Shot over the course of several years, the black-and-white photos manage to tell stories more vividly than any number of photos of Grand Central’s hour can—and feature mostly candid shots of people on city streets, parks, and subways.
The result is an aesthetic blend of looks, gestures, and attitudes unique to the city, offering glimpses into the Black Lives Matter movement, the NYPD, and the reality of the pandemic’s early days when its streets were largely empty.
Here’s a preview of Cordas’ unprecedented view of what may be the most photographed city in the world.
The newly released book features 200 colorful pages of exciting scenes shot by photographer Luke Cordas
Cordas moved to New York in 2014 and found himself inspired by its residents. As a result, his new collection of street photography aims to “capture the spirit of the city” rather than the usual attractions
Taken over several years, the black and white photographs focus primarily on people and situations – offering a unique glimpse into the most photographed cities in the world.
Monochrome images manage to tell stories better than any photo of the Brooklyn Bridge ever – with many shots taken on the city’s streets and trains. Here, an unnamed couple is seen cuddling on the New York City subway
The result is an aesthetic blend of looks, gestures, and postures—all without focusing on still-to-death sights like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.
A couple kiss on the New York City subway in an undated shot by Cordas. The photographer has previously released books covering cities like London and Berlin, but he’s mostly created between New York and Europe
The new work shows New Yorkers in their “natural habitat,” providing vivid, character-packed shots that show “all walks of life,” says the author.
The footage also features solitude as a prevalent theme. “A lot of people here are focused on money or their careers,” Cordas says of the feelings of isolation thousands of New Yorkers face despite living in the capital. “It’s easy to be alone and anonymous… it’s easy to get lost”
One of the liveliest of all the boroughs, Brooklyn’s Coney Island also prides itself on its quiet moments, says Cordas—something he’s “gravitated to” when taking photos for the book. ‘There’s more magic on the boardwalk in the middle of a snowstorm or the beach on a sunny but very cold January day,’ he says.
Originally from Poland, Kordas has been filming lonely New Yorkers for nearly a decade. “Loneliness is the leitmotif of New York,” he says. That feeling is palpable everywhere in the city — a place filled with eight million people, many of them immigrants and transplants.
A frustrated little girl is seen staring out a subway window in one of the photos taken by Kordas, who says “the subway itself is very much like a city within a city,” as well as “a little New York subway intense, it’s a real meeting point for people from all over the world.” Ways of life “
New Yorkers are seen taking to the streets to protest the killing of George Floyd in 2020. Other timely images show glimpses of the NYPD, and the reality of the early days of the pandemic when the streets were largely empty
“There’s a lot of crowds in New York, and there’s also a lot of lonely people,” Cordas adds. And separates us from each other, it also plays a role.
The photos, though taken relatively recently, manage to evoke feelings of nostalgia while providing a flavor that is quintessential New York.
This picture shows yet another intimate encounter with yet another untold hero
Cordas, 39, lives and creates mostly in New York and Europe. New York Unseen, released last week, is the third installment in the Unseen series, preceded by books about Berlin and London.