After over three decades shooting the streets of NYC, Jeff Mermelstein shifted his camera’s lens to a more specific corner — New Yorkers’ text conversations.
Mermelstein has been taking an ongoing series of photos since October 2017 documenting the bizarre messages people send to each other while out on the streets. The photos, which the Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn, resident has been posting to his Instagram over the years, have been compiled into a book, “#nyc,” now available for pre-order.
The photographer chatted with The Post about the most absurd texts, if anyone has ever busted him and the first intriguing text that started it all.
What inspired you to start taking photos of New Yorkers’ texts?
In the midst of making pictures with my iPhone for [my series] “Streetwork,” I saw a woman on Eighth Avenue and 46th, an older woman, and she was sitting on the edge of one of those planters outside a cafe. And she was typing on her phone. I went and made a picture of her screen, and after looking at my picture, I saw what was on the screen: It was a Google search about wills, and it had something to do with $6,000 in the attic. It was fascinating, and that kind of opened up a door of awareness.
How many of the images were taken on the subway?
Almost none. I’ve rarely made pictures in general on the subway. I’m much more at ease, much more experienced, being out on the street.
Nowadays, with COVID, it’s not really an environment we can comfortably get close to people, so my work has really shifted because of that.
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