Yes. I am one of those native New Yorkers that loves their city and holds it above all else. Yes. I love all things that even say the word New York in the title. And Yes; I think that New York is the center of the universe. AND again yes; Manhattan is awesome but if you’re really cool you live in Queens. That being said I jumped at the chance to review The New Yorkers by Robert Herman.
Robert Herman is an interesting guy. He overcame debilitating mental disorder while finding his passion as a photographer, which turns out helped keep him together until he was finally diagnosed properly. This book is a collection of photos from Robert’s time in NYC and many of the photos are from over 30 years ago, which gives you a bit of insight into what NYC looked and felt like in the early 80s. Know what the best about that is? That these pictures capture the beauty of the city and its people, which has always been a universal constant. For me; some of my favorite childhood memories are of taking graffiti covered trains and buses from Flushing to Astoria to visit my grandmother. A lot of this book immediately brought me back to those trains and streets and gave rise to the sights, sounds, and smells of those memories.
NYC isn’t for everyone. I know this and this book also tells that story through the eyes of an observer that has made gorgeous visual tapestries out of seemingly every day occurrences. New York is dirty and to a casual peruser of travel books they may see NYC as a place that they may want to visit but never live. For us New Yorkers it’s home and we would not trade the stank pee smell on a hot summer day in the subway, a Met game off the 7 train, or dirty water dogs for anything.
If anyone is looking for a great photography book about New York that captures a certain era then I would suggest handing them this book and not a pop-culture collection of hackneyed New York images. The subtle nuances of time and place hit your eye like a exploding hand grenade of rich vivid color mixed with the grit and grime that has been a staple of New York since Manhattan Island was bought from the natives.
Another fascinating thing about this book is that you can take 90% of the photos and juxtapose them to photos of the streets of NYC now and may not be able to tell the difference because of how fashion has evolved into an anything goes anachronistic style that is adorned by young and old alike in the present day.
The book is bound very well and has an extremely nice feel to it. It also has that photo book smell, which I have always dug. But, that’s just me. I enjoy the aesthetically pleasing aspects of a well made photography book and this indeed is one of them. This is one of those books about a city that you can sit by a window on a nice day and just fall into. This is a stunning piece of work that along with Robert Herman was years in the making and well worth the wait.
To purchase the book or see more of Robert Herman's work: www.robertherman.com