BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

What are some of the things you love about living Uptown?

I was born and raised in Inwood, which has been going through its phases ever since I can remember. There are a few things I’ve always loved about the neighborhood though, especially when coming from downtown. The pace is more relaxed, it’s quieter, and more community oriented. When you’re in a place like Times Square, you’re surrounded by thousands of people, and yet you’re so alone. But if you walk into a small bodega in Washington Heights, you’re like family.


What do you like about shooting Uptown?

For me, when I shoot uptown it’s all about reclaiming memories. I haven’t been able to decide if it’s the neighborhood that’s changed or me? Either way I like to revisit old memories. I love photographing bodegas, and people hanging out. I probably have hundreds’ of shots of open fire hydrants, and people selling piraguas. I guess I’m just trying to stop time. Eventually I’ll have to come to terms with change, and realize that it’s inevitable.


Your portraits have this grittiness and fierce pride. How do you pick your subjects?

Someone once asked me if the people I choose to photograph are in some ways a reflection of myself. I thought about it for a while, and I think there’s a lot of truth to it. Whether it’s someone I wanted to be or who I am today, I can see the connection. I’m a bit of a loner, when I go out and take pictures I wander around the city for hours. I’m only 24 but through the troubles in my life, I can see the connection in the tired faces of the aged and the homeless, wandering through the city just like me.

Your photographs are pretty ballsy, do you ever get into altercations over them?

I’ve gotten the finger plenty of times, and someone once threw a cigarette at me. But otherwise, I get a lot of those tough guys who bark a few words and expect you to run. But I’ve dealt with worse things in my life, and have nothing to be afraid of.

How would you describe yourself as an artist?

I’ve never been able to call myself an artist, or a photographer; I guess I’m still new to photography. I found it as a way of expression like a journal.

One thing I always try to stay focused on is being connected. I don’t like sneaking up on people, or photographing them from a distance. I like to talk to them – hear their stories, learn from them, and show them respect. And in the end, whether they want to be photographed or not, I try to create positive energy, wishing them a good day, and smile.


Is there anything else you would like our audience to know about you or your work?

I’m very passionate about New York City. I have a lot of ideas and things I want to accomplish with my photos and they all come from the heart.


Check out previous Uptown Artist columns:

Paul Lomax

DJ Boy

Matthew Gallaway

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