In the past few weeks, pedestrians across New York City may have stopped and borne the heat, to look closer at a photo of a building corner, outlined against the sky, being displayed in one of LinkNYC’s kiosks.
This photo, with its play of color and darkness, and it’s almost geometric precision and framing, is the work of Bob Krasner, a New York City-based photographer reporter who has, for decades, been using the City’s streets and skies as his personal studio.
“I love it when I’ve managed to take something and have the subject matter transcend what it actually is” said Krasner, who freelances for The Villager, a division of Schneps Media, just feet from one of the kiosks. “You’ve got these buildings with hard lines and right angles – and then you’ve got the sun, which is a completely natural force.”
Through the eye of Krasner’s camera, sights that many New Yorkers may have become inured to – the cornices of buildings, steeples, brick walls, blue skies partially obscured – become suddenly unfamiliar. The effect of his work is abstract, almost painterly in its precision, its attention to exact color and composition, and its estrangement of our assumptions. Looked at closely, in fact, the photos don’t look like photos at all.
Hailing from Massachusetts, Krasner has been shooting New York City since the 1980s. His practice is simple: bring a camera everywhere you go.
“I’m always shooting,” Krasner said. “Sometimes I go out specifically just to shoot, but a lot of times it’s just the result of me having to meet somebody somewhere, or having to go to an event.”
That spontaneity is integral to Krasner’s work, which includes the photographs that can be found in LinkNYC’s kiosks and on Instagram, at @bobkrasner and @bobkrasnertoo, as well as on amNY.com and The Villager.
The road to getting onto the kiosks was a crooked one.
After asking an artist how they got on, Krasner said, he was told to simply tag LinkNYC on his Instagram posts, and that, eventually, they would get in touch.
Get in touch they did: Krasner has been on the kiosks three times, and the current run, which began three weeks ago, ends on Aug. 17.
His inspirations include Arnold Newman, Ray Metzker, and Lee Freindler, photographers whose work, even that taken ‘on the fly,’ display a very strong sense of composition.
Jazz and minimalist music, with their poles of freedom and limitation, play a role, too, so much so that Krasner says he approaches his compositions musically.
But his work is best summed up by those words of John Berger, which Krasner quoted to this reporter: that “seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees.”
Find these photos on the kiosks or his Instagram accounts, and you will do just that.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.