Stunning portraits showcase the softer side of the Big Apple, with incredible images depicting raw and remarkable moments from across New York.
Photographer Phil Penman took to the city streets every day between 2019 and 2023 and captured a series of sensitive moments as the world came to a standstill during the pandemic.
His moving black and white images, published in his new book New York Street Diaries, give a glimpse of the calm and tranquil side of the city during lockdown.
For over three decades, Dorset-born Penman has worked as a professional photographer and has an extensive catalogue, including his haunting images of Michael Jackson, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez Or Bill Gates.
Penman says he quickly realized how important it was to document what was happening in one of the world’s largest cities at such a sensitive time.
When tragedy struck New York on September 11, 2001, Penman was there with his camera to document history as the terrifying scenes unfolded before his eyes.
“The Covid 19 pandemic was no different,” Penman told DailyMail.com. ‘I knew we were going through a life-changing event.
“For me, my life as it was began and ended on 9/11. I feel for many of us, it was the same during COVID 19.
“We were going through something the world hadn’t seen in a long time. I hope we never have to witness it again.
Every day he would leave early in the morning until late at night trying to take as many photos as possible.
He says the pandemic taught him ‘how much we all need each other.”
“I was going out to capture the streets as I saw them. No more hustle and bustle in the streets. Instead, we would see seagulls on 8th Avenue, or hear birds chirping and the sounds of ambulance sirens in the background. Another loved one taken from us by the horrible Covid 19 virus.
“Out of the shadows came the homeless population. These were the people I talked to every day. We no longer asked for money, but for a mask or food. For a long time, they had relied on food left in the back of restaurants. Unfortunately this no longer existed due to restaurants being closed.
“I remember walking down Broadway one day. I saw someone’s house thrown into the back of a sanitation truck. Next to the truck stood the owner, a man wearing a jacket that said “F**k Everything.”
“I went up to this man and asked if I could photograph the jacket. He replied, “Where are you from?” I said “England”.
“It turned out we grew up about 10 miles apart in the county of Dorset. We now found ourselves in the middle of a pandemic lockdown chatting on the streets of New York.
“It’s been rewarding to receive all the wonderful messages from people around the world who have purchased the book and how it means so much to them that this period has been captured.”
A series of stunning images showcase the Big Apple in all its glory with portraits depicting New York style, including this stunning view from Top of the Rock showing the Empire State Building.
The Statue of Liberty watches over a man sleeping on the Staten Island Ferry during the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020.
An elderly woman wearing a costume mask stops to pose for a photo on Halloween night at Washington Square Park in October 2019.
An impressive photo of the interior of the “Summit” on 42nd Street of the Empire State Building
A shirtless sports jean and tribal headdress seen near the Port Authority building in March 2019.
A masked person walks past a mural in the city center in March 2020.
Residents seen walking in windy conditions as rain falls in Radio City in March 2018.
A couple seen sitting next to two skeletons outside a restaurant in Soho during Halloween, 2022
A man walks on an empty street during a snowstorm in February 2021
A photo of a sign taken outside a New York City church reads “We Pray and Listen to the Scientists.”
A man collapses in his wheelchair near a poster that says “life sucks.”
A 5th Avenue skateboarder sports checkered pants as he stands on a pedestrian cross.
A sign hangs in a window on Broadway in New York saying: “raise your hand if you are vaccinated”
Low clouds seen above New York from Central Park on April 9, 2020
A strange image shows an unusually empty space outside Radio City Music Hall in April 2020.
A fashionable young woman is seen in Soho walking near a poster reading “We Are The Walking Dead” in February 2020.
Charlie (former military man from North Toronto, Canada) got stuck in New York once the pandemic hit.
A restaurant sign on 42nd Street reads “now delivering to the Hamptons” next to an image of Mona Lisa wearing a mask
Two women are seen going about their business in pre-pandemic Harlem in June 2018.
Photographer Phil Penman’s new book, New York Street Diaries, gives a glimpse of the city’s quiet side with images of New York characters like this man posing next to a portable stereo in Washington Square.
A man walks with an umbrella above his head on a foggy day in midtown Manhattan in June 2019.
The Empire State Building passed through the Washington Square arch in February 2019.
New Yorkers walk up and down 5th Avenue in March 2020
On a snowy day in January 2018, Penman captured this image of the Flatiron Building
As the world stood still during the Covid-19 lockdown, Penman took to the streets in the snow and wind to capture the softer side of New York.