I was working on a gallery opening with my friend Adrian Wilson devoted to Native American art in NYC over Thanksgiving 2018. Sparrowhawk, who works as an actor, stuntman and model, also happens to be a talented painter. After the show closed I met up with him and a few friends in Central Park and we did some portraits of them in action. Such a delightful afternoon, and COLD.
I met Paddy Boom at an art gallery opening about the teenage years of Basquiat in one of my favourite meetings of all time. I had no idea who he was and was playing a guessing game of who was probably famous in the room, and he mischievously told me later he’d been the drummer for Scissor Sisters. I was mortified but he thought it was hilarious. He invited me to shoot his band Faith at their rehearsal studio a few weeks later and we ended up becoming friends. Paddy is a great guy, and a very enthusiastic and supportive person. I ended up photographing him and his various music outfits a lot since. I shot these photos on the roof of his apartment building in Chelsea to promote one of his shows.
Nora is a dancer I met when I shot a Fringe performance rehearsal at Westbeth one evening. It turned out we had a few mutual friends and we hit it off. I did a series of her doing some dance movements around Greenwich Village, as well as testing out my fisheye lens. I found the fisheye to be a lot of fun with dance and movement. Nora was a joy to work with and incredibly expressive, so I took a chance on a different approach and ended up using her as a model for a fashion shoot with IQ Test later that month.
Courtney Yates, whom millions know from Survivor, has been one of my models and besties in NYC after we met at a protest in 2016. We share a love for skeletons, politics, the stars, and philosophy. A couple of years ago we did a series in her home to promote her work as a physical therapist. True story: she literally saved my back. Years ago I was hit by an SUV and had suffered from back problems for years as a result. She calmly said “I can fix it.” And she did, using cupping and massage. I am so grateful to this amazing woman for giving me back my full mobility and proud to call her my friend.
My friend Chelsea had just decided to leave her longtime home in the East Village and move back to the other side of the country. We did this shoot with the vintage suitcase to commemorate that.
This is one of the most important series I’ve ever done in NYC, simply because this space no longer exists in this way. My friend Faye was living in Williamsburg a few blocks from the abandoned Domino Refinery, and she had a special tie to this building. She suggested we try breaking into it and exploring. In an absolute miraculous turn of events, we broke in TWICE, both on Sunday mornings.
At the time they were breaking ground on what is now known as Domino Park (which is gorgeous, if you want a nice date night) and there was rubbish and piles of dirt everywhere. Somehow we both knew this was our only chance to document the place, and I told Faye we had a better chance of being left alone if we were blatantly there for photographs if we got caught. But we didn’t get caught, thankfully, and we have these beautiful photographs as treasure.
Faye is English so we thought it would be funny if she dressed as Britannia and in a ballgown in this scenario, and she did with gusto. We found that filthy pickaxe on the grounds and it just worked perfectly. The last photo of her by the backhoe demonstrates just how immense this building really is – that is just one level, the basement. Each level was a gigantic cavern that still smelled of burnt sugar and rust.
There had been buzz about a new Amazon complex and development around the Anable Basin, so my friend Daniella suggested we do a shoot around there. The idea of transformation – her own body, the surrounding area – was a fascinating concept to explore. I had discovered a junkyard closeby and thought it would be a fun place to take photos.
The day we shot these a random blizzard came through. Daniella is a performance artist and the weather didn’t faze her one bit. She bore it all. Absolutely one of my favourite portrait sessions. And the development was scrapped soon after.
Wes, who I had met at some political rallies, wanted to do portraits in Green-Wood Cemetery. One pleasant November day we made the trip down on the R train. The weather was perfect and we had a great time exploring the place, talking about metaphysics and enjoying the day. A lot of changes have happened since we did this shoot – Wes is trans and had yet to go through the metamorphosis of physical changes. One of the nicest humans I’ve ever had the pleasure to photograph.
One of my early portrait shoots was done on iPhone with Francesca, who at the time was contemplating a move into the NYC improv comedy scene. Francesca’s love for unusual fashion and character impressions made for a terrific jaunt around the East Village.
During a very tumultuous time in my life I often crashed on the sofa of my old place in Flatbush. That summer was particularly brutal and we all went up on the roof in the early evening to do a photo shoot. It was…probably a very dangerous idea. A few months after this shoot the ceiling of one of the flatmates caved in during a thunderstorm. This place needed to be condemned. I don’t know who lives there anymore. But it’s fun to see these photos now that they seem forever ago.
Adrian’s stunning Celtic beauty, reminiscent of Maureen O’Hara, were inspiration for this series of portraits, shot in my old Harlem apartment.
I happened upon an encampment of WWI re-enactors on Governor’s Island one afternoon. I thought it would be fun to do portraits of them in a tintype app. The results were quite stunning. These caught the eye of Jerry Saltz on Instagram!