MANHATTAN BLUE

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40˚42”46’ North, 74˚00”21’ West, 8 x 8 in / 20 x 20 cm

When we stayed at Zoe’s place, we’d sometimes walk the few blocks to Battery Park—the southern tip of the island—to watch the sunset. We’d sit on one of the benches right at the waterfront and watch the day slowly fading into the night. One time, when the Statue of Liberty's torch switched on, it threw me back in time. I was reminded of scenes from flickering black and white movies showing immigrants arriving on ships from all over the world. Most of them had been escaping dire circumstances, desperate for freedom and opportunity, carrying little more than hope. All of the sudden, it became so obvious how lucky I was to be living under circumstances that allowed me to follow my dreams, without any such hardship. 

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Lower Manhattan, 17 x 12 in / 43 x 32.5 cm

Summer Streets, 13 x 11 in / 33 x 28 cm

The next few months were the best of my life. The sky seemed the limit. Zoe spread out, working in yoga studios all over Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, and I roamed the streets, trying to capture portraits of the city in my own way… we were both launching into the great, wide open.

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Summer Streets, 13 x 11 in / 33 x 28 cm

The months flew by and our relationship grew stronger. My book grew, too, and Cleo the cat accepted me finally as friend, taking frequent naps on my lap while I worked on my computer editing photos or writing text. Everything should have been marvelous, if not for our financial situation, which darkened. 

It became harder and harder to fill up my photo safari tours. Sometimes I ended up walking the city with only one client. The big corporate NYC photo tours with their aggressive advertising and big online presences stole the clients away. I had to start working a second and third job to make ends meet. Fortunately, a friend of mine ran a second-hand bookshop on Crosby Street. Three times a week, I schlepped and alphabetized books, dusted shelves, and jumped on the cash register once in a while.

It was New York after all, right? The city that embodies constant change. Seeing it as a rejuvenating elixir rather than a burden…that’s the mindset that makes you a real New Yorker. 

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East Houston & Crosby, 17 x 12 in / 43 x 32.5 cm

Zoe also changed. Her long and enthusiastic monologues about yoga and ancient Indian wisdom dimmed. It happened so slowly that it took me a while to realize—Zoe had become quiet. Every time I tried to talk about it, she quickly changed the topic. I didn’t want to push her, but I started missing sitting there listening to her passionate speeches. 

We still went down to Battery Park once in a while to watch the sunset, but now I was the one holding the monologues. Talking about my book and things that happened to me while taking photos of the city. Zoe tried to listen, but it was obvious that her mind was somewhere else...

Excerpt from my book "71 Blocks" 

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Zoe at the Battery waterfront, 17 x 12 in / 43 x 32.5 cm