As the first installment of the Concrete Jungle Instagram photo exhibition series at NYC’s Royalton Hotel, photographer Jason Peterson is unveiling a collection of images dubbed “New York in Black & White.” Peterson manages to capture the essence of the city and present it in ways that are both familiar and also entirely the product of his own artistic vision. Remarkably, the majority of the works featured in this show have been shot on his iPhone. Their root is in social media: from Peterson’s Instagram, where he has amassed nearly half a million followers.
“I moved to New York in the early ’90s,” Peterson shares with CH. “I’ve been through a lot, and so has the city. We all have a sense of what old New York means.” With his work, the photographer aims to capture a sense of timelessness. Peterson moved to Chicago three years ago but his role as Chief Creative Officer at branding agency Havas means he returns to the city regularly. “We all think, ‘It frustrates me that my favorite shoe cobbler or toy store closed down.’ What I love about black and white photography is it makes images appear timeless.” In the face of loss, the city retains something.
“Most of these images were shot over the last year and a half,” he continues. “It would be stupid to be cynical about New York. I love like the mid ’90s, where there was so much change—but the best part of New York is right now, always. It’s always right now.” And that defines exactly what Peterson captures. Images from today that reflect the values of modern New York, while incorporating its ever-present history. From midtown to Coney Island, beauty meets a starkness, and together Peterson’s aesthetic forms.
As for why he is now having a solo debut, Peterson explains that it’s “mainly because all these opportunities really have been popping up for me around social media. Instagram has totally exposed me to a broader audience. And yet, to me, this exhibition has also opened my work up to a much broader audience.” Peterson has already taken part in group gallery shows, but this is the first time he will showcase all of his New York imagery on his own. And with the visual importance of social media, and its ability to build a following, Peterson has already lined up two more shows for summer 2015.
Jason Peterson’s “New York in B&W” opens today 14 April 2015 and will run through 31 May 2015, at the Royalton Hotel, 44 West 44th Street, New York City.
Images courtesy of Jason Peterson