Stories from New York are a dime a dozen, and among the looming skyscrapers, people can be be as numerous and erratic as an upset nest of ants. But in 2011, the New York Times published called “One in 8 Million,” an Emmy-award winning photojournalistic piece which takes the everyday lives of 54 men an women across New York City, and gives you a narrow slice of the city through the sights and sounds of their lives.
I was actually introduced to this through a photojournalism class (with UMass’ fine photojournalism professor Dennis Vandal), and I was immediately impressed by the scope, detail, and emotion so expertly packed into these little slide-shows, photographed mainly by a man named Todd Heisler.
For example, the story of Ed Grajales, a Dictaphone repairman. The photographer shows intimate close-ups of Grajales working on the machines, and simplistic, yet skillful full shots of him working in his office, while his gravely, classic New York accent rolls over the story of his life and career.
The blending of high-quality audio with the varied approaches to camera angles provides almost a sort of movie-esque appearance, and if you’re following the story with just enough attention, you can almost swear you’ve just watched an actual video of this person’s little piece of New York City. It’s surreal in the most fantastic way, but then again, maybe I’m just taken in by the superb presentation of each story.
In the case of each profession, they will show the subject of that particular piece while interjecting audio of them in the midst of their work, like with Joe Keegan, The Ladies’ Man. It involves photos of him approaching women and asking them out in any variation of his tried-and-true ways, while the audio mixes him in, nonchalantly discussing his techniques. They juxtapose this audio with pictures of him on some dates, playfully holding purses in a shop, sharing his umbrella, or sitting close to one of his dates in a quiet park, and it really gives you a sense of what makes this guy tick.
It seems just so easy to get lost in their little worlds, and while not every one of them may be as thrilling to me as the others, there’s always just a few that I’d want to go on, even just for a moment longer, and share their fascinating part of New York that I may have never otherwise seen.