We have followed Jay’s work of Manhattan for some time now. We have been singularly impressed with his eye and the beauty he finds in presenting the events and skyline of this city. His images have given us a birdseye view of the events that impact this home to so many. Often times his images beat the news services and provide a real idea of the impact of events that affect the lives of New Yorkers. Jay’s photos show the City from his heart and perspective. The more we look at them the more stories they seem to tell in this photographer’s voice.
Would you tell us about yourself?
I’m a photographer based in Lower Manhattan for the past decade. In my twenties and thirties I was an active shooter, but found myself doing less and less due the demands of family and work. About ten years ago I picked up a digital camera to take on an overseas trip and found myself hooked again on shooting.
What brought you to photography?
My Dad was a photographer early in his career. He taught me the basics of shooting and working in a darkroom when I was a kid. More recently, thanks to social media sites like Flickr and Face Book I can have a two-way conversation with my audience, an audience that is international.
What challenges do you face as a photographer?
Photography is not what I do full-time. I try to shoot what’s around me, primarily landscapes and cityscapes. Most of my shooting is done a few blocks from home. I’m fortunate to live in a part of the world that always has something going on– a few blocks from City Hall, the World Trade Center site, Wall Street, and one of the most scenic harbors in the country..
My more news worthy work is syndicated by the Caters News Agency in the UK. The Kim Foster Gallery in New York City represents my fine art work.
When do you fit in your personal work?
Almost all my work is personal – I shoot for my personal pleasure and am happy that others seem to enjoy it as well.
Who are some of the photographers that have inspired you?
For a number of years I worked near the Museum of Modern Art and spent countless hours going through photography galleries. As an unabashed lover of New York City I’m inspired by people like Bernice Abbott, Alfred Steiglitz, Samuel H. Gottscho, and Joel Meyerowitz . The great Czech photographers, Josef Sudek, and Josef Koudelka are two early influences, as well as, Robert Frank and Gary Winogrand.
Eugene Atget, Edward Weston, Paul Strand, Henri Cartier Bresson, Mary Ellen Mark and Sebastiao Salgado have also inspired me and influenced my work in one way or another. This is a good starter list for anyone interested in great photography.
What makes a great photograph in your eyes?
A great photograph has, at its core, an underlying truth to it. It doesn’t have to be pretty, technically perfect, or take up an entire wall. A great photograph makes you want to go back and look at it time and time again.
Would you tell us about your workspace?
Two desks at right angles to each other in my home office, one of which is an old sewing machine table with an HP PC for all non-photography work and an iMac, on the actual desk, for photography. Two Canon printers (an all-in-one for business and a second 13×19 for prints). We collect lots of books and magazines so I’m surrounded almost floor to ceiling by books and other reading matter. It’s messy but cozy. The blinds stay down during the day and come up at night.
What type of equipment do you use take your street photos? Do you have any preferences for a particular format camera?
I’ll use anything that can take a picture from a cell phone to a digital slr. For most of my street work today I use a Nikon D300s usually with a 12-24 zoom or a 50mm ƒ/1.4 or 85mm ƒ/1.4 depending upon my mood. I also have a Nikon 1 V1, a 10 mp mirrorless camera usually sporting a 10mm f2.8 lens(equivalent to a 28mm lens on a 35mm camera.)
I picked up the 1 V1 during Occupy Wall Street because I wanted something small and unobtrusive that could focus quickly. The image quality is surprisingly good and has enabled me to produce enlargements as big as 66”x45” from it.
Any words of advice or statement you would like to share?
If this is something your passionate about then you’ll shoot everyday. Look at the work of great artists in all disciplines. Most importantly find a few people who will be honest with you about your work and offer constructive criticism. Rarely does anything of value come quickly (fast food comes to mind).
Thank you Jay for your time, and your art.
To learn more about Jay Fine please visit his site at, Jay Fine.