Photojournalist Gary Hershorn has a keen sense of mesmerizing luminosity and the use of unconventional angles. It’s a constant challenge when photographing one of New York City’s most popular subjects: its skyline.
Hershorn’s images offer the viewer a refreshing perspective of the city’s skyline that has been photographed ad nauseam, but somehow managed to make the photos continually engaging and serve as inspiration to reinvent angles and perspectives.
“I have to admit that there is a real sense of accomplishment when you can capture a beautiful sunrise, sunset, moonrise or moonset scene with New York City as the main element of the image […] There is always an interest in beautiful pictures and any picture you get that no one else has can mean everything to a photographer,” Hershorn tells PetaPixels.
Hershorn’s photos work a kind of magic as they capture the vibrant spirit of the city, summoning his audience into a renewed state of awe and appreciation of New York City’s natural vibrancy.
“I keep saying how amazing it is to be in a place on the Hudson River or New York Harbor at sunrise when the sun and a building like the Empire State Building are perfectly aligned with the skyline and that amazing light scene and color unfolds in front of you, and then you look around and realize that out of the millions of people who live in that area, you’re the only one in that exact spot seeing it,” says Hershorn.
For years, Hershorn has been documenting a constantly changing New York City. His shots show bombastic thunderstorms, atmospheric partial solar eclipses, phenomenal silhouettes of the Statue of Liberty and various snapshots of the city’s unique “mood”.
In August 2022, Hershorn shared his pictures on Twitter, and many took notice and praised his recent shots of the city, as well as her past adorable moments.
Still beating that drum. scroll back @GaryHershorn‘s Twitter feed over *just the last month* to see how many unique and fresh views one die-hard photographer can pull from one of the world’s most photographed subjects: the NYC skyline. cc @petapixel
— David Hobby (@strobist) August 29, 2022
A golden sunset as the sun reflects off One World Trade Center and Lower Manhattan in New York City on Sunday evening #New York #newyorkcity #nyz @agreatbigcity #Sunset @_WTCOfficial pic.twitter.com/tZ7TLKaXN7
— Gary Hershorn (@GaryHershorn) August 28, 2022
— Gary Hershorn (@GaryHershorn) August 26, 2022
Skateboarders in front of the Empire State Building in New York City at a skate park in Hoboken, NJ #nyz #newyorkcity #nyz #Skateboard @agreatbigcity #Sunset @empirestatebldg pic.twitter.com/Y4KJyJ5Fyu
— Gary Hershorn (@GaryHershorn) August 24, 2022
— Gary Hershorn (@GaryHershorn) August 20, 2022
— Gary Hershorn (@GaryHershorn) August 15, 2022
The sun sets over Lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center in New York City, as seen from the Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial in Liberty State Park, Wednesday evening #New York #newyorkcity #nyz @NJ911Empty Sky #Sunset @agreatbigcity pic.twitter.com/CR0IXtVerT
— Gary Hershorn (@GaryHershorn) September 1, 2022
In his latest photo series entitled Heavenly New York, the process was years in the making. Hershorn’s inspiration for the series came from walking the city streets during the 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks.
“New York has received a lot of attention from the world’s media and I wanted to contribute photos to the stories that were being written. New York was very inactive for 10 years after 9/11, but by the 10th anniversary, One World Trade Center was under construction and beginning to show up in the Lower Manhattan skyline, becoming a focal point for photographs and also a sign of that, I think, was the city’s rebirth.” Hershon continues.
“Its rise helped lift the spirits of the city and I was keen to document the upcoming changes to the entire city skyline as the building reached new heights.”
Another event Hershorn wanted to record and capture was the 2012 Supermoon. Hershorn used an app to find an ideal spot where the sun and moon would rise and what buildings would be in their path, and Hershorn waited for his Image taken at the Eagle Rock Reservation, a location in New Jersey (13 miles from Lower Manhattan).
“I’ll never forget going there to photograph it and being the only photographer out there with professional cameras. Everyone else who was there basically had an iPhone to take pictures with. A month ago the same alignment happened again, except now there were dozens of photographers there to photograph them. It just shows you how popular photographing celestial events has become with the advent of Instagram and other social media platforms to allow photographers to easily share their work.”
As for equipment, Hershorn has three different systems when shooting. from Canon Powershot G7X cameras to Canon M-series mirrorless cameras, Canon R-series mirrorless devices to various weather and orientation apps such as: Planit Pro, the photographers ephemerisand photo pills. He uses radar range for the weather,” explains Hershorn,
“I use these cameras because they’re small, light, easy to carry, and you can be unobtrusive when you’re shooting. They don’t draw attention to you. and that’s my favorite way to shoot.” Hershorn adds, “Although I endlessly preach that the equipment is immaterial to the photo taken, which means that cameras are so good these days when a photographer uses some sort of camera instead of a phone to shooting a scene you can almost always get something very good, gear is everything for a photographer. It’s so important for a photographer to find a system they’re comfortable with and learn how to use it well. While cellphone cameras serve a great purpose, they just aren’t built to handle the types of light and distances required to photograph celestial events.”
Hershorn’s meticulous planning results in seemingly flawless executions with unforgettable results: satisfying shots.
“[…] It’s very gratifying to capture that [city’s] beauty and being able to easily share it with the world on social media and of course on Getty Images.”
At the request of PetaPixels To explain when a photo is “satisfactory” in his eyes, Hershorn spoke about the importance of composition.
“In my opinion, for an image to be satisfactory, it has to be aesthetically pleasing, ie have good composition, and also have a certain wow factor. How a person uses composition will of course vary from person to person, but typically photographers find a particular style of shooting and stick with it,” he says.
“I find adding a human element to an image visually stimulating, interesting and satisfying, but the key is figuring out in each image how large you want the human form to be […]As for the wow factor, that can come from a variety of things, like color, the size of a rising moon, or maybe placing a person or object in just the right place.”
Hershorn looks back on his past work and looks to the future. Hershorn is grateful to be able to document a changing New York City well into the future while playing a role in preserving its history.
“I feel like I helped create a genre of photography in New York City by capturing the kinds of images I’ve had since 2012… As for future projects, I’ll just continue the evolving.” Documenting New York City skylines just like I have since 2011 […] A new ten-year period is now beginning […] This will mean yet another amazing change in the face of New York City by 2030,” he says.
“At the end of the day, the pictures I take aren’t about taking pictures and trying to get likes on social media. I am doing my best to leave thorough and comprehensive documentation of the growth in New York City so that when the history books write about what happened in New York after 9/11, they can easily find photos in the Getty Images archives, showing what happened here.”
To find out more from Hershorn, follow him on Instagram.
Photo credit: Gary Hershorn