Street photography can appeal to the romantics in us. The blur of faces that pass us on a daily basis are suspended in time with each shot, and soft moments of magic reveal themselves in the small details and idiosyncrasies of strangers. In our imagination, strangers can become anything and everything; they are perfect by virtue of their unknowability.
The debut monograph by photographer Melissa O’Shaughnessy, published by Aperture, pays tribute to the art of street photography and the storytelling it allows. Shot on the chaotic streets of New York, Perfect Strangers: New York City Street Photographs, is a 144-page spread of 90 colour photographs taken over the past seven years. In the context of O’Shaughnessy’s distinctly humanist and quirky eye, the photographs are a sharp contrast to life on the streets now, where the pandemic has shifted the way we navigate the city and each other. The photographs are a last reminder of the bustling nature of city streets, the confluence of people, and the energy of human interaction. As photographer Joel Meyerowitz writes in the introduction, “O’Shaughnessy’s work has quickly, brutally, been torn from our ongoing present and will forever serve as one of the lasting impressions of what life looked like just before the fear of the unseen microbe took away our uninhibited freedom of movement.”
Perfect Strangers: New York City Street Photographs can be bought here.
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