New York Hero: Saul Leiter


Saul Leiter, works 1940s-60s

I don't know about you guys, but I'm the kind of girl who could be in a room full of my friends and still feel totally alone. This isn't always out of a feeling of loneliness (although don't get me wrong, I have my moments of awkward social lockjaw); sometimes time crawls and I start paying attention to whatever hits my senses first- my mind wanders, and suddenly my drink is warm.

I don't remember the time I first saw a Saul Leiter photograph, but his work seems to come back to me quite often when I'm having a rough day or something, and nothing seems to give me any creative clarity or excitement. In other words, when I feel like crap, I can always turn to Leiter's photographs because he created beautiful potential with a sense of absolute solitude in the midst of NYC: swirling, unpredictable and stressful, yet in that millisecond, completely clear and meaningful.

Imagine him walking down the street with his Leica, finding his frame in a window display or street corner, and then just patiently waiting, and observing quietly, for the right combination of elements to pass him by. The sense of chance and the knowledge of his solitude make the colors in his photos that much more rich, and the scenes ever more quiet.

What a shame it is that colors in the city are no longer this bold, the signage and windows up and down SoHo in these photographs come out of a different world with different priorities, but without Leiter's eye, fashion photography and editorial photography would never have quite as a sophisticated ease about them, nor would they have a strong calling for a sort of lofty dreaminess. Leiter's subjects are unaware, but in their moment, and to see potential everywhere is a damn fine skill to have. 

These photos remind me to take solitude as a simple joy, and to realize that just because something isn't completely in focus, doesn't make any less important to the big picture.

yessir, ended with a pun. 
enjoy, suckas.

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  1. I wasn't familiar with Leiter's work before, but after seeing this post, I feel a bit of a kinship with him and the solitude he depicts in his photos. Thanks for sharing.

  2. beautiful! great inspiration!



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