The world might be on pause, but creativity never stops. With his series “Show must go on” German photographer Florian has been documenting the streets of New York during the weeks leading up to the lockdown. Florian moved to New York City only 9 weeks ago, when the city was starting to be on high alert, but its people weren't slowing down. With a fresh eye and a background in documentary filmmaking, it was obvious for Florian that he had to document the city in this unique time.
"I will try to keep working on this project. I don't know how the situation will evolve within the upcoming weeks but I will keep shooting."
Far from his usual photographic style where he tends to favor pastel soft tones and symmetry, the contrasted and saturated tones of this series reflect the exuberance of the city, as it tries to run away from the rest of the world.
Hello Florian! It's great to meet you. Can you first tell us how did you get into analog photography
I grew up in the '90s so analog photography was always there for me. My father owned a small media agency so we always had a lot of cameras lying around our house. I have actually owned much more analog cameras in my life than digital ones!
Can you tell us more about the project you're working on right now?
I moved to New York City only 9 weeks ago. That was around the time the Corona virus began spreading. I have since documented life slowing down in New York and, when this is all over, I will put together a zine.
How did you come up with this series?
I was astonished by the colliding of the capitalist center of the world with the fear of a global pandemic and I tried to come up with something that combines the two into one.
Why did you call this series "Show Must Go On?"
When I started with it the situation in NYC was not as clear as it is now. People still went to work, everything was open – the were just many masks. The name derives from that situation: "Put on the mask and go on. Capitalism will kill the virus" Obviously, that didn't work.
Why did you decide to use double exposure?
It felt natural to me, I thought that the only real way to realize this project was by the use of double exposing the film. That way I could combine two worlds that seem to be so far away from each other.
What gear did you use for this series?
Only my Contax T2. I first shot a roll of exposures of capitalist symbols like NYSE, Trump Tower or Times Square. When the roll was full I rewound it and put it back into the camera for the second round of exposures: people with masks. I tried to loosely remember which frames had which motives and tried to adapt my second exposure to that.
In some of the shots, you seem to be very close to the subjects. Did you use a zoom lens, or do you physically get close to them?
I don't own a single zoom lens. One thing I learned in my two years of serious photography is: zoom with your feet.
The T2 has a fixed 38mm lens so I had to get close. For street photography, I usually try to find a spot with nice lighting and hide behind a corner. When a subject approaches, I shoot it from the hip from close range. The autofocus on the T2 helps with that but sometimes misses the focus. I usually prefer a rangefinder which I would set beforehand for this kind of work.
Did the current situation change or affect your photographic style and habits?
I think so, although I haven't realized it until you asked. My pictures have become much darker and moodier since the outbreak.
Do you have any projects we should be on the lookout for in the near future?
I rarely plan ahead so we will all see I guess :)
You can follow more of Florian's work on his Instagram