New York street diaries: Stunning new black-and-white portraits show life in the Big Apple, from its dazzling skyline to its hustlers and derelicts

  • Post category:news
  • Reading time:6 min(s) read

  • Photographer Phil Penman’s new book New York Street Diaries gives a glimpse at the tranquil side of the city 
  • He captures streets and people to show the city’s ‘most sensitive moments’
  • Penman, who was born in Dorset, has been taking pictures of the streets of NYY for more than two decades

Stunning portraits showcase the softer side of the Big Apple, with incredible images illustrating raw and remarkable moments from across New York.  

Photographer Phil Penman took to the city’s streets each day between 2019 and 2023 and captured a series of sensitive moments as the world stood still during the pandemic. 

His moving black-and-white pictures, published in his new book New York Street Diaries, give a glimpse at the calm and tranquil side of the city during lockdown. 

For more than three decades, Penman, who was born in Dorset, has been working as a professional photographer, boasting an extensive catalog, including his spellbinding images of Michael Jackson, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez or Bill Gates

Penman says he quickly grasped how important it was to document what was happening inside one of the world’s greatest cities at such a sensitive time. 

When tragedy struck New York on 11 September 2001, Penman was there with his camera documenting history as the terrifying scenes unraveled before his eyes 

‘The Covid 19 pandemic was no different,’ Penman told DailyMail.com. ‘I knew that we were going through a life changing event. 

‘For me, my life as it was, started and ended on September 11th. I feel for a lot of us, it was the same during COVID 19. 

‘We were going through something the world had not seen for a long time. Hopefully something we will never have to bear witness to again.’ 

Each day he would head out early in the morning until late at night trying to take as many pictures as he could.

He says the pandemic taught him ‘just how much we all need each other’.

‘I would go out capturing the streets as I saw them. Gone was the hustle and bustle of the streets. Instead, we would see seagulls on 8th Avenue, or hear birds chirping, and the sounds of ambulance sirens in the background. Another loved one that had been taken away from us by the horrific Covid 19 virus.

‘Out of the shadows had come the homeless population. These were the people I would chat with day to day. No longer were they asking for money, but instead a mask or some food. Long had they relied on the food left out the back of the restaurants. This sadly no longer existed due to the restaurants being closed.

‘I remember walking one day down Broadway. I saw someone’s home being thrown into the back of a sanitation truck. Next to the truck stood the owner, a man wearing a jacket, that said “F**k Everything”.

‘I went up to this man and asked if I could photograph the jacket. He replied “Where are you from?” I said “England”. 

‘It turned out that we had grown up about 10 miles away from each other in the county of Dorset. Now we found each other in the middle of a pandemic lockdown chatting on the streets of New York.

‘It’s been rewarding to receive all the great message from people all around the world who have bought the book and how it means so much to them that this time period was captured.’

A series of stunning images showcase the big Apple in all its glory with portraits illustrating New York's style including this breathtaking view from Top of the Rock showing the Empire State Building

A series of stunning images showcase the big Apple in all its glory with portraits illustrating New York’s style including this breathtaking view from Top of the Rock showing the Empire State Building 

The Statue of Liberty watches over a man sleeping on the Staten Island Ferry during the Coronavirus outbreak in March, 2020

The Statue of Liberty watches over a man sleeping on the Staten Island Ferry during the Coronavirus outbreak in March, 2020

An elderly woman wearing a dress-up mask stops to pose for a photo on Halloween night at Washington Square Park in October, 2019

An elderly woman wearing a dress-up mask stops to pose for a photo on Halloween night at Washington Square Park in October, 2019 

An awe-inspiring picture from inside 'The Summit' on 42nd Street of the Empire State Building

An awe-inspiring picture from inside ‘The Summit’ on 42nd Street of the Empire State Building

A shirtless sporting jeans and a tribal headpiece seen near the Port Authority Building in March, 2019

A shirtless sporting jeans and a tribal headpiece seen near the Port Authority Building in March, 2019 

A masked person walks past a street mural in midtown in March, 2020

A masked person walks past a street mural in midtown in March, 2020 

Locals seen walking navigating the blustery conditions as rain falls on Radio City in March, 2018

Locals seen walking navigating the blustery conditions as rain falls on Radio City in March, 2018 

A couple seen sitting next to two skeletons outside a restaurant in Soho during Halloween, 2022

A couple seen sitting next to two skeletons outside a restaurant in Soho during Halloween, 2022 

A man walks along an empty street during a snowstorm in February 2021

A man walks along an empty street during a snowstorm in February 2021 

A photo of  a sign taken outside a New York city church reads 'we are praying - and listening to the scientists'

A photo of  a sign taken outside a New York city church reads ‘we are praying – and listening to the scientists’ 

A man slumps in his wheelchair near a poster which says 'life sucks'

A man slumps in his wheelchair near a poster which says ‘life sucks’ 

A skateboarder on 5th Avenue sports checkered pants while standing on a pedestrian cross

A skateboarder on 5th Avenue sports checkered pants while standing on a pedestrian cross 

A sign hangs in a window display on Broadway, New York City, saying: 'hands up if you're vaccinated'

A sign hangs in a window display on Broadway, New York City, saying: ‘hands up if you’re vaccinated’ 

Low clouds seen hanging over New York from Central Park on April 9, 2020

Low clouds seen hanging over New York from Central Park on April 9, 2020 

An eerie image shows an unusually empty space outside Radio City Music Hall in April, 2020

An eerie image shows an unusually empty space outside Radio City Music Hall in April, 2020 

A fashionable young woman is seen in Soho walking by a poster tagged 'We Are The Walking Dead' in February, 2020

A fashionable young woman is seen in Soho walking by a poster tagged ‘We Are The Walking Dead’ in February, 2020 

Charlie (ex-military from just north of Toronto, Canada) got stuck in New York once the Pandemic hit

Charlie (ex-military from just north of Toronto, Canada) got stuck in New York once the Pandemic hit

A restaurant sign on 42nd Street reads 'now delivering to The Hamptons' beside an image of the Mona Lisa wearing a mask

A restaurant sign on 42nd Street reads ‘now delivering to The Hamptons’ beside an image of the Mona Lisa wearing a mask 

Two women are seen going about their days in Harlem before the pandemic in June, 2018

Two women are seen going about their days in Harlem before the pandemic in June, 2018

Photographer Phil Penman's new book New York Street Diaries gives a glimpse at the tranquil side of the city with images of New York characters like this man striking a pose beside a portable stereo in Washington Square

Photographer Phil Penman’s new book New York Street Diaries gives a glimpse at the tranquil side of the city with images of New York characters like this man striking a pose beside a portable stereo in Washington Square 

A man walks with an umbrella overhead on a foggy day in midtown Manhattan in June, 2019

A man walks with an umbrella overhead on a foggy day in midtown Manhattan in June, 2019 

The Empire State Building shot through the Washington Square arch in February, 2019

The Empire State Building shot through the Washington Square arch in February, 2019 

New Yorkers walk from one side of 5th Avenue to the other in March, 2020

New Yorkers walk from one side of 5th Avenue to the other in March, 2020

On a snowy day in January 2018, Penman captured this image of the Flatiron Building

On a snowy day in January 2018, Penman captured this image of the Flatiron Building

As the world stood still during the Covid-19 lockdown, Penman took to the streets in snow and wind to capture the softer side of New York

As the world stood still during the Covid-19 lockdown, Penman took to the streets in snow and wind to capture the softer side of New York




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