In an age of hipster beards and juice bars, its hard to get a daily fix of real life, as in the reality of what is happening in youth circles, the ones whoa re not in chia seed and matcha tea. Abbey Gilbert gives us the low down of what it is like to photograph in NYC as someone coming of age.
I’m 18, turning 19 in two weeks.
You try to capture a certain aspect of life in your photos that is somewhat raw? Where does this interest come from?
Capturing raw images is a lot more fun to me than doing a planned shoot. There’s more excitement to it. Nowadays I feel like everything is airbrushed and I feel like I need to remind people whats real.
What’s your greatest concern now as a photographer living in New York?
My biggest concern about being a photographer in New York has to be gentrification. I’m not about to be taking pictures of hipster yuppies.
Where are you living New York exactly? How does this influence your work?
I’m on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. But I kinda hang out all over the place. The UWS has always been a chill neighborhood, but now most of the stores I used to go when I was growing up are all gone now. My favourite pizza parlor, candy store and diner (all on the same block) got knocked down and replaced with a Marshalls and CVS. Since my favorite spots in my neighborhood are getting replaced with Starbucks, banks, expensive juice places and shit it makes me strive to go out and shoot every genuine thing I see before it’s too late.
HBO’s new documentary Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, which is coinciding with a retrospective of Mapplethorpe’s work between the Getty Museum and the LA County Museum of Art the documentary, has brought up the age old question about what defines art and what makes an artist? What do you say to this, as a photographer yourself?
Art doesn’t have a specific definition, it’s completely subjective. As a general statement, art is a creation reflecting one’s point of view and causes an emotional reaction from its audience. As a photographer, it’s not just about capturing a particular scene or subject with good lighting. It’s seeing things differently or seeing things most people don’t notice and capturing it.
Do you use your own experiences as a canvas for your work, or do you simply document what you see, as an outside party?
I document what I see, wherever I go. I can’t leave my house without a camera; I always have at least one on me.
Who are your biggest influences in art, music and literature?
My biggest influences in art have to be Vivian Maier, Mary Ellen Mark and Garry Winogrand. All of their photographs speak to me and inspire me to be a better photographer. I’m mostly influenced by old rock n roll like Led Zeppelin, Kiss, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie and a bunch of other bands and solo artists. Music like that can never be compared to or recreated. I just love it. I’m not gonna lie, I don’t read that much. I wish I had more time to read. I’m farsighted so I have to wear glasses for reading and it’s annoying to carry my glasses around. When I do read, I usually just sit in Barnes & Noble and pick up like 3 photography books and sit in a corner for like an hour.
I just put together a zine a few months ago called, “Suck It!” so I’m just taking more photos to eventually put together a new zine and of course do more shows.