This week saw the opening of a new exhibition in Prague by respected Czech photographer and filmmaker Martin Froyda entitled “New York Walker in Blizzard”. As the title suggests, the show (and accompanying book) features a collection of photographs of New York snowed under – arguably the only time life in the Big Apple slows down. The exhibition is on at the US Embassy’s cultural centre in Prague.
“Manhattan is a huge ‘kettle’ of energy: every time I visit New York and Manhattan specifically, I feel this absolute energy that comes from many different things: the different cultures, excellent cuisine and so on. I can say of all the cities I have visited New York is probably my favourite place to return to.”
Are there sites in particular that you returned to again and again as a photographer?
“Well I try to visit New York at least once or twice a year. Sometimes I go on business, other times to rest, or to shoot. I’ve been going over for a long time: I think my first visit was in 1985, so a long time.”
It has changed quite a bit since then, would you agree the city has become milder, if we can use that term?
“I think it has. In the 1980s it was much more violent and you had to watch yourself, for example, on the subway or in some areas, know what was happening around you. Today it is a clean or cleaner city and it’s perfect. No worries.”
“I was preparing work for a book and I asked photographer Antonín Kratochvíl for advice. He pointed out that the pictures I had done of New York in winter would make an excellent series and to my knowledge there were no or few books focussing on the city only under such conditions. So that is how it came together and that is why the title is New York Walker in Blizzard. That was the idea.”
How many blizzards or storms did you shoot in?
“I think it was two big blizzards and maybe three smaller snow storms.”
When a blizzard hits NYC, where they are fairly uncommon, is the impact significant?
“I think so. The resulting atmosphere is very interesting and unusual. For a few hours at least everything stops. There is a beautiful light... and everything goes quiet.”
To capture that light what kind of equipment do you use and do you shoot in analogue or digital?
“I began with analogue but then turned to digital.”
“There are necessary changes when shooting in digital, namely in transferring images to B&W. The format is called ‘raw’ and after that you have to edit it, and in digital the image is in colour, so that had to be adapted. B&W was definitely the way to go, effectively capturing contrasts which come out even more in the winter.”
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