Apparently, it's a family-run business where they roll their own cigars from scratch and by hand, all based out of a tiny little shopfront in Manhattan. On his first trip to Martinez, Szotten was unlucky and missed out on seeing the staff roll the cigars – something he really wanted to photograph. It wasn't until his second visit to NYC that he had success, and managed to take this fascinating series of shots that really echo the dark and smoky atmosphere of this charming cigar shop.
Speaking of his afternoon spent taking photographs there, Szotten said: "I took a seat in one of the odd chairs and just started chatting. I'm usually pretty shy but I had planned this for too long not to make an effort. All the patrons seem to be regulars. It's the day before 4th of July so it's pretty busy. Customers are stocking up for the long weekend or just getting the odd one for the special occasion. These people to me seemed like the 'true' Americans. I often say that New York isn't quite America. It's just a melting pot of people from all over the place and while yes, it has loads of American culture it's also cultures from around the world, which is what makes it so special.
"Either way - these customers, the people working in the shop, the people just hanging around smoking in the shop – they're just salt-of-the-earth people. No tourists, no dressed up fashionistas, no bearded and tattooed hipsters – just real people. It's tricky to explain. All I can say is that I love this place."
Discover more on Szotten's website: Josefszotten.com.