Behold, lovers of street photography everywhere! The Eyes of the City is a new book that showcases over 20 years of work by iconic street photographer Richard Sandler, including many photographs published in print for the first time.
Between 1977 and September 11 2001, Richard regularly walked through Boston and New York City, encountering all that the streets had to offer. The resulting images demonstrate not only timing, skill and talent, but his innate photographer’s eye.
Richard credits his fascination with street life to his years in New York as a teenager in the 1960s. A frequent truant, the young Richard spent much of his time in a very different Times Square than that we know today. His quests were to buy illegal fireworks and visit the arcades and side shows, particularly Hubert's Flea Circus on 42nd Street. Manhattan was a cyclone of faces: some at play, many clearly suffering. All eyes, ears, and heart, Richard was sensitive to it all as a kid peering into this adult world. Such early impressions would come to play a significant role in his later street photography.
Living in Boston in 1977, and after two careers involved in helping others, as a natural foods chef and acupuncturist, Richard realised an overwhelming desire to do something for himself, alone. As if on cue, a late 1940s Leica appeared in his life and he hit the Boston streets in an experimental mood. He shot in Boston for three productive years and then moved back home to photograph an edgy, nervous, angry, dangerous New York City. In the 1980s crime and crack were on the rise and their effects were devastating the city. Graffiti exploded onto surfaces everywhere and the Times Square, East Village, and Harlem streets were riddled with drugs, while in Midtown the rich wore furs in vast numbers and "greed was good".
In the 1990s New York experienced drastic changes to lure in corporate interests and tourists and the results were directly felt on the streets as rents were raised and several neighbourhoods were sanitised, making them ghosts of what, to many, made them formerly exciting.
Throughout these turbulent and triumphant years Richard paced the streets with all his knowledge of what the city was, ever on the lookout for what his eye connected to as New York transformed and changed the lives of everyone who lived in it. For better and for worse, one was simply "on the street" in public space, bathing in the comforts, or terrors, of the human sea and his work is the marbled evidence of this beauty mixing with decay as only his eyes could capture it.
Via Creative Boom submission | All images courtesy of PowerHouse Books & Richard Sandler