The first time I travelled to New York City I was struck by its contrary qualities. There’s a generosity among the harshness, a beauty, especially on Manhattan Island, despite the intensity. The attractiveness emanates from the architecture and manifests on the pavements. It resonates in the people, in their industry and their effort, and spreads through the small parks and large central garden. It travels along the grid of the city’s streets and climbs into the theatres and bars.
This duality of endeavour and largess is what the street photographer, Alan Schaller, loves to picture: the movement and vivacity of a city that holds ugliness with pride and energy with varied amounts of glue and glitter.
Homegrown and old-fashioned at times, Manhattan, simply put, has style. And it is this that Schaller’s black and white shots capture. There’s a softness to them that appears to be informed by the city itself. You can find it in other photographs Schaller has taken in other places, so, you could say, that along with a never-ending supply of subject-matter, the city has influenced Schaller’s eye by giving him the same generous position it displays. While managing to be objective, the stills have a softness that adds to their attraction. And, as the same gentleness imbues the angles of this city, subject and photo are inextricably joined.