Interview with Cheryl Dunn
Documentary photographer/filmmaker. Director of Everybody Street. Born and raised in NJ; moved to Milan after college; NYC for the past 30 years. I was originally a dancer/gymnast in high school, but I fell in love with photography in college.
The streets, and especially my home of NYC. I’m working on a book of photos from the Financial District, where I’ve had my studio in an old loft for the past 25 years. This was the original neighborhood of Manhattan back when it was colonized by the Dutch: these streets are the oldest and most contentious part of the island. The mix of wall street executives, homeless, tourists and just regular commuter is endlessly fascinating. Mirror sharp light cutting through the crosswalks as it bounces off of enormous skyscrapers, a sea of people on foot, light shafts and shadows from scaffolding tunnels, it really is the perfect place to shoot.
People expressing their individuality on the street, and the many ways that is manifested. Hand-written signage has always been particularly important to me, whether it’s protesters, sidewalk vendors, or some cryptic phrase scrawled in sharpie on a t-shirt. I also love shooting at music festivals. It’s a great gauge of people’s relationship to the camera – in front of the lens and behind it. This changes constantly as technology evolves. Being able to shoot five days in a row in a sea of 100,000 happy people really energizes me and keeps my photographic muscles in shape.
Whenever I can, but my favorite times are the busiest times, rush hour and lunch hour. Light is fleeting and you have to be flexible enough to run outside when it’s getting good. You have to be willing to turn around on your bike and go back and GET the picture.
I studied art history and I’ve always been interested in documenting the artistic process, as a reference for future generations to be inspired by. Life on the street is continually unfolding, and if you’re willing to look for it, magical things are happening every single minute. Even more so, photography is a personal way of chronicling ones life, and most of all, I love that it leads you into worlds of new discovery.
All images © Cheryl Dunn