Some of the most famous museums in New York—like MoMA, the Met, and the Guggenheim—attract art-conscious locals and tourists alike. Others are attracted to Fifth Avenue by its proximity to Central Park and the ostentatious tall buildings that line the avenue, including the Empire State and Flatiron buildings, Rockefeller Center, and Trump Tower.
Those who can afford to, shop along one of the most well-known and high-end shopping streets in the world. Store employees, construction workers, and street vendors are combined, and sometimes contrasted, with the people who work in the tall buildings and walk on the avenue during their commute. To further add to the energy and bustling atmosphere, the street hosts important events like the LGBT Pride March, Puerto Rican Day Parade, and St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
For a couple of months, Valente walked along Fifth Avenue trying to capture the specific things that encapsulated the vibrancy of the avenue. He believes that if you paint a canvas with fifty black dots and add just one red dot, your painting is no longer about the fifty black dots. But it’s also not about the red dot. The painting is about the relationship of the fifty dots that look the same with that one different red dot. That’s what Valente had in mind when photographing the avenue during his lunch breaks. He was always imagining the street as a canvas and trying to include in his photos the interactions and people that would be the red dot, representing a specific moment on Fifth Avenue. Because, to accurately represent a place, you can’t photograph only the ordinary people and scenes, but also must capture what contrasts with the normality and thus makes that place special enough to be photographed.
About the author:
Nei Valente is a young street photographer born in 1989 in Brasília, Brazil. He is current living in New York, where he divides his time between street photography and his work as a graphic designer at Brand Union. His work have been published by websites like BuzzFeed, Spiegel, Fubiz, DesignYouTrust, and Trendland, and exhibited in galleries in the United States and Holland.