Shot for Shot: Eian Kantor + Harrison Jacobs // Chinatown, Manhattan

Shot for Shot: Eian Kantor + Harrison Jacobs
Chinatown, Manhattan
September 27, 2018

Harrison and I went to high school together in New City, New York, a drab suburban town just north of New York City. Before this Shot for Shot, the last time I saw Harrison was, I think, in 2008, the year we graduated high school. I’ve been following his journalistic work for a few years, and after reconnecting with him a while back on Instagram, we thought this would be a fun endeavor.

We chose to do this Shot for Shot in Chinatown, Manhattan on September 27, 2018. Harrison and I both love wandering around Chinatown, and since I could only get there at around 5:45pm, we thought it might be a cool spot to explore, even in low-light. This experience did not disappoint. The streets were filled with neon signs, old Chinese men taking smoke breaks, bustling street markets, and the occasional alley that smells like a weird combination of fresh fish and urine.

Harrison is a New York native, but has been traveling around the world for the past year. He is Business Insider's international correspondent covering global issues, international technology industries, and travel from both a budget and a luxury perspective. He is on instagram as harrisonxjacobs.

These photos were taken with digital cameras. Click an image to make it larger.

We hope you enjoy the photos and the commentary!

- Eian

HJ: My girlfriend and her cousins always tell me stories about growing up at their parents’ restaurants: doing homework at the table reserved for family, playing games on the sidewalk, or taking turns at the cash register. I don’t know if this little girl is the child of the restaurant owner but something about her gaze reminded of being a kid, stuck and bored somewhere, waiting for your parents to finish work.

EK: Both Harrison and I love this particular market. I usually photograph full photos of people, but i was particularly stuck by this interaction/transaction. I love that these are unidentifiable hands, but if you know New York City at all, you’d definitely know that this is in Chinatown. The woman’s red bag and the green vegetables are also examples of staple colors in Chinatown markets.

HJ: I caught this one as you were walking up to meet me. I’m sure I’m not alone in this as a photographer, but when I see something like a sport or dance, I start viewing the human figures more for the pattern or gesture they might create. These two guys were playing a heated game of what seemed like squash without rackets and I got drawn to the different configurations they would set throughout the match.

EK: The food in Chinatown is some of the best (and cheapest) in New York City. It’s not uncommon to see chicken and duck hanging in window roasters, or fresh fish in open storefronts on the street. I thought this photo was a good representation of the kind of food you could get in Chinatown.

HJ: The light in Chinatown is always so gorgeous. The neons and the storefronts shift between bright colors and a dusky yellow. Here, I was trying to capture the yellow. I loved the way the yellow fell over the street. It was another happy accident that this guy was walking by at that moment. His eyes are directed square on the camera, no doubt a wary reaction to being photographed.

EK: This was the last photo I took of the night. It was DARK. I think my ISO was up at max capacity. It’s hard to shoot street photography at night with no flash. But, the light from this kitchen reflecting onto a worker sitting outside on his break was ideal. This man was deep in thought while the rest of his homies were chatting and smoking.

HJ: I took this photo without thinking. I just saw the guys balling and I loved the idea of catching the layup at the perfect time. It goes back to viewing the human figure more for its gesture or pattern. But what made me include the shot was something I didn’t notice initially. The older man on the right enjoying the game. His grin hooked me. A happy accident.

EK: I often take shots from the hip without looking in my viewfinder. For this one, I stopped, picked up the camera, and quickly snapped 10 versions of this. Restaurant work is tough, and these two were enjoying noodles and soup on their break at the foot of basement steps. Once again, it was extremely dark outside, but the light from inside the kitchen was perfect.

EK: We stopped for a moment to watch folks playing soccer. However, I couldn’t take my eyes off of this seemingly father/son duo, who were also watching the game. From the muted colors of their shirts to the way in which the father is holding his arm around his son, this moment was screaming to be photographed.

HJ: As we walked through Chinatown, we walked by half a dozen tables of old Chinese men playing Go or poker or just shooting the shit. I want to shoot it every time I see it. I’ve seen young Chinese-American photographers who know the old men sit down with them and take beautiful, intimate photos of the gatherings. That’s the photo I want, but, truthfully, I feel its not my photo to take. I decided to shoot this because of the interplay between the “Boys” sign and the old men at the table.

EK: We stopped to watch these guys play this game (I think “Go”?) for a few minutes. I don’t think they minded that we were photographing them. Watching these kinds of games, posted up on old produce boxes, reminds me of the strong and deep community in Chinatown.

HJ: As we walked down Canal, this couple was shooting photos on their smartphone of everything building and person they saw. Not unlike what we were doing. One of my favorite things to do when shooting a space is to turn the camera on the photo-takers. The people in the places we shoot so often become hyperaware of their presence in front of our lenses. They operate as involuntary characters in our drama. But the tourists, the interlopers, and the photographers we leave out of the frame. They don’t fit the story we want to tell. But they are just as much part of it.

EK: The street was very crowded at this hour, but this woman was on the move. I love the way she is pushing through the hoards of people with her hand. She could not be stopped.

HJ: Red is such an important color in Chinese culture. It means so many things. Prosperity, good health, good luck, happiness. But what struck me here was the different shades. The translucent red of the take-away bag that all the restaurants in Chinatown use, the maroon of the father’s sweater, and the identical primary reds of the mother and son’s hoodies.

EK: This is a classic Chinatown scene. I love the on-lookers: not sure if they’re waiting for their turn or if they’re scrutinizing this cast of players or if they’re just watching their friends play.

HJ: This market underneath the Manhattan Bridge is a spot that I keep going back to photograph. What has always struck me is how it acts as a distillation of Chinatown: it exists solely to service locals. It has nothing to do with the tourists who might pass it by or the young Manhattan and Brooklynites who want cheap produce. You have to meet it on its own terms: the prices are written in Chinese, the produce is almost exclusively ingredients popular in Chinese cuisine, the sellers speak little English.

EK: I kept mentioning to Harrison that there’s this one shop where lotto tickets litter the entire floor. This wasn’t that shop, but the storefront reminded me of it. This window is so busy: signs from the lotto coupled with Chinese pro-cure regiments.

HJ: I love shooting street scenes as wide as possible sometimes. Street photography is so based around capturing that “decisive moment” and I love to try to capture those. But sometimes, I think it can be just as powerful to capture a kind of nothingness happening. The space between those moments. An anti-moment. That’s where most of us live our lives anyways.

Shot for Shot: Eian Kantor + Ryan Madison // Coney Island and Brighton Beach, Brooklyn

Shot for Shot: Eian Kantor + Ryan Madison
Coney Island and Brighton Beach, Brooklyn
August 26, 2018

Ryan and I have been Instragram friends for quite a while. I think we found each other through street photography circles on IG. Any time that he visited NYC or I visited DC, we attempted to meet up and shoot, but never could make it work out. Ryan was en route home from a few months in Italy and had a few open days in NYC. He met me at my apartment in Park Slope and I suggested that we do a Shot for Shot.

We chose to do this Shot for Shot in Coney Island and Brighton Beach, Brooklyn on August 26, 2018. It's well known among my friends that Coney Island is my favorite place in NYC. Ryan had never been to Coney Island and Brighton Beach, so it was a no-brainer that this was where we needed to shoot. Coney Island and Brighton Beach are a street photographer's dream. There are so many wacky folks from all wakes of life wandering down the likes of Surf and Stillwell. There are many scenes to capture, especially on a hot Sunday at the end of summer.

Ryan is from the Baltimore area of Maryland. He is a freelance photographer and creative, and is the founder of the DC Street Photography Collective (DCSPC). He is on instagram as @ryanmadisonnn.

These photos were taken with digital cameras. Click an image to make it larger.

We hope you enjoy the photos and the commentary!

- Eian

EK: I was struck by this woman as soon as I got off the train. Her painted nails were all chipped and she looked forward with a face of dejection. I couldn't tell if she was going or coming. She almost seemed stuck in time, her suitcase frozen at an angle, holding a bedazzled hat.

RM: One day when water is scarce this might be an important photograph, but for now I’m drawn to the the fact that this person’s skin isn’t being shown in this photograph. It was an extremely hot day and this individual had multiple layers on with the addition of gloves and the obvious poor choice of pants.

EK: The juxtaposition here is fun. On the left, you have a Hasidic Jewish man wearing a long coat and long pants. On the right, you have a NYPD officer in shorts and a short sleeve shirt. They're looking at each other in an odd way.

RM: Catcalling is difficult to express through photographs, but I’ve been trying to document with them in that mode none-the-less. As someone who has never had the urge to do something like that, I want to try to understand why; perhaps the answer could be found by continuing to document it. On a separate note, I was surprised the green crocs didn’t have a bigger effect.

EK: I shot this photo over in Brighton Beach. The way this old woman in red meshed with the yellow and green and Mister Softee truck of her surroundings was striking. She stood out. After taking this picture, some folks started yelling at us in Russian. It was kind of exhilerating.

RM: Back when I was growing up off of Caravan Court, playing with remote control cars, skateboarding, and jumping bikes off of plastic x-factor ramps, I had a neighbor that lived about 5 doors down. He’s had hair like this since the 90’s and I’m still not even 100% sure that it wasn’t him; I never looked at his face.

EK: It was very, very hot. This man wore a coat with an extremely elegant fedora, one that donned a red feather. What I loved most about lining up this photograph was all the people blurred in the foreground. This man was just watching them have fun in the sand or in the water while he sat in the baking sun, in a coat on a boardwalk bench.

RM: This was somewhat of a busy pier but these two found a space all their own.

EK: This presumably father/daughter duo was adorable. She kept hopping around and falling back into her father's arms. It was very endearing. You could tell they both cared for each other deeply.

RM: This photo was made on the “Russian” side of Coney. This guy made sure to have footwear options.

EK: I watched this dude for a good 7 or so minutes, wondering what the heck he was doing. He had two other folks with him. It looked like he was summoning some sort of deity. In any sense, he looked angelic with his full white robe. I feel like this capture adequately represents his spirituality.

RM: I’d like to think this is more comfortable than it seems.

EK: This couldn't be a more perfect outfit for Coney Island. The red outfit of the woman on the right matched the dyed red hair of the woman on the left, and the text "PLAY DIRTY" just fit.

RM: I like this photo. It’s not like most of my street photography where one or two people are the subject. This photo reminds me of some of work of Youngjae Lim. For me they are something I would describe as mathematical reoccurrences. A pine cone looks like a pine cone just like this photo looks like this photo.

EK: This man is a presence. He's big. The white socks, sneakers, dark shorts, and shirt wrapped around head combo couldn't be more perfect. He stood there and watched. I have no idea what he was watching and I really don't care what he was watching.

RM: I like to play around when the opportunity presents itself. I like that this man was putting his shoes on with only one arm. Does he have two arms or just one? How can we really be sure about anything? Where am I?

EK: This picture is hilarious to me. This man was selling a towel with a print of a $100 bill for like $10. I don't think it needs much more explanation than that. The dude selling it probably hasn't left Brighton Beach in 20 years.

RM: This man must have felt her presence because the sidewalk only belonged to one person, and one person only.

Shot for Shot: Eian Kantor + Alison Luntz // Midtown East, Manhattan

Shot for Shot: Eian Kantor + Alison Luntz
Midtown East, Manhattan
August 7, 2018

Alison and I met by way of Instagram. I remember searching through some sort of 35mm related hashtag -- this was back when you actually looked through hashtag pages to find cool and niche photos (now they're just filled with spammers and too much content). This photo from January 26, 2014 won me over. Her caption: "Have a wonder-full morning, everyone." My comment on the picture: "your stuff is great! love this in particular." Whenever I see this "WONDER" sign outside of the Broadway G stop, I think of Alison. At some point quite a while after becoming Instagram pals, we grabbed a beer in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and became real in-person pals. 

Since becoming friends, we've done a bunch of photography work together, from traveling around North Carolina to shooting double exposed rolls of film around Coney Island and working as a Digital Tech + Studio Photographer duo in a product photography studio. You can see some of our miscellaneous work here, here, here, and here

We chose to do this Shot for Shot in Midtown East, Manhattan on August 7, 2018. Neither of us had really explored Midtown East before and we thought it'd be an interesting place to check out during rush hour. Hell, one of my preconceptions about Midtown East was that all the assholes who went to my high school in the NYC suburbs became finance bros or lawyers and moved there. We used Google Maps' boundaries of 42nd Street to 59th Street between 5th Avenue and FDR Drive for our Midtown East walk.

We started at about 6pm. It got very dark very shortly after we began our walk, and it eventually started thundering, lightning, and raining, which made for some seriously tough lowlight photography conditions. We welcomed the challenge!

Alison is a native of North Carolina, but now lives in Bushwick, Brooklyn. She is a freelance photographer and digital tech. She is on instagram as @alisonluntz.

These photos were taken with digital cameras. Click an image to make it larger.

We hope you enjoy the photos and the commentary!

- Eian

EK: This bus was stopped at a red light. I immediately noticed this woman wearing a pink shirt against the blue hue of the advertisement on the side of the bus. I then noticed that the headline in her paper said, "SO GROSS." I loved that it was juxtaposed with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. I loved that it was the only visible part of the headline and that I'll likely never search for what the rest of the headline said.

AL: seeing this corner made me think of the work of Natan Dvir, who has a great series of normal people living their banal lives in front of glossy larger-than-life billboards. It’s a series that’s really stuck with me, and I think about this contrast a lot while living here — the glamorous, perfectly coifed and styled side of the city, versus the grunge and messy chaos of the street. It gets even more complex when they romanticize and try to sanitize the latter in ads — but thankfully there’s still plenty of stank left on the streets.

EK: Alison and I started our Shot for Shot in Grand Central Station. So much happens at Grand Central: hellos, goodbyes, people running for the 6:17 train to Poughkeepsie, anti-terrorism NYPD officers milling around. I saw this VERY intimate moment happening between a man and a woman (pictured above) from afar. I tried snapping a few pictures. Blurry, not good. We walked around some more, and this couple was still sharing a special moment. I rarely go for second shots (when I miss a shot, I usually just move on), but there was something so beautiful about these two and the image at large. The way his left hand gently holds her arm. The way she smiles and stares into his eyes. The movement of the woman in the pink dress to the left. In a place where everything is moving so fucking fast, these two seemed stuck in time. When I looked at the photos later, I realized that I didn't capture his full head, half of his body was cut off, and the image was blurry. I didn't care. It was such a lovely moment.

AL: oh. my. god. Something dramatic is happening here, in front of the Container Store, which is really the beating heart of Midtown East. I think it’s cool that New Yorkers are so used to being around strangers that they really don’t hold back from having full-on deep discussions while waiting to cross the street. So great for voyeurs with cameras, like us. 

EK: This felt like a classic New York City moment to me. I wonder what this guy was ordering. There are endless options at a diner: was it a well-done burger with fries? was it a pastrami on rye sandwich with extra coleslaw on the side? was it a grilled chicken salad? I have no idea. Right after I took this photo, the waiter looked out the window, saw me with me camera directly pointing at him and the customer, and gave me a look. I have no idea what this look signified -- I'm still thinking about it as I write this blurb.

AL: I guess this is a bit like the shot of the hot dog truck in front of the Louis Vuitton sign, real life items paired with advertisements. I like the incongruity of it, the advertised fruit vs the real fruit, and the fact that the watermelons are all wrapped up and identical so that they don’t really look like real fruit at all, but rather like they grew from the plastic tub  like a 3D printer. Honestly the melon flesh looks a little like meat, which is sort of intriguingly gross to me, haha. 

EK: The way this woman is standing and looking up at the sky was picturesque to me. She looks like a statue. It's not my crispest shot, but the essence of Midtown East felt very real in the pose of this woman.

EK: This was the last shot I took during our Shot for Shot session. This dude seemed tired. It was really humid and muggy out. It started raining as he smoked his cigarette. He didn't care. He was under an awning. Not sure what he was looking at, but he looked contemplative and I too was contemplative in that moment.

AL: This guy stood out to me because the street was pretty chaotic, but he had found a little bubble of solitude in which to do his texting. He’s a bit statuesque, in a funny way, plus I’m a sucker for geometrical features like steps in this type of light. 

EK: I was walking behind this couple and immediately knew I had to snap a photo of them. She put her hand into his and they started walking across the street. I walked ahead of them, waited at the corner as they slowly crossed, and took this photo. I don't really know what it was, but they seemed like they've been married forever and I just admired the way they helped one another move along.

AL: This behemoth of a building kind of bent my mind, optically. The left side, with all the indents, just seemed visually jarring, and at this point the sky was a forbidding grey — thundering, but not yet raining, which cast the whole thing in a mysterious light. At twilight, with lights coming on slowly, it’s easy to wonder about the secret life of buildings, the small differences in the windows sticking out more because of the overwhelming uniformity of the facade.

EK: It was about to pour in buckets. It was thundering and lightning at this point. These two doormen stood on, I think, Sutton Place, and watched as the clouds tried to burst. There were very few people out.

AL: One thing I noticed on this walk through glamorous Midtown East is that there are flags everywhere around here, and here’s the first of them. For me, the way it looms above the terminal changes the meaning of the little moments captured in front of it. This tourist family was Spanish-speaking, and seeing them below this giant dominating American flag made me think about all the difficulties immigrants face in coming here (or even visiting). But what stood out in contrast was their sweetness, and the pleasure they had in taking about 5 minutes to get the perfect family selfie. 

EK: I saw these two from a block away and thought they were interesting. It was extremely dark at this point. My ISO was up to like 4000 and shutter at 1/125 sec at an aperture of 4.0. I knew that whatever shot I was going to get would be noisy and grainy as all hell. What I came to realize only as this couple came neared was that the woman was wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat. I quickly shot two photos from the hip, and as she passed Alison and I, she said hi. I always forget that there are Trump supporters in New York City, but, of course, there are and they would be in Midtown East.

AL: I’m actually not totally sure why I picked this shot. The light at this point (still threatening to rain), was very warm and moody, and it just cast its vibe over everything. These protesters had just stopped (I guess?), and the woman in red seemed really satisfied and effusive. She had this searching expression on, and that plus the STOP and the lips was enough to interest me. Please note Eian’s arm makes a cameo at left. 

AL: Neither of us had spent much time around this part of town, and a bunch of streets had this. It sort of felt like seeing some unpublished draft of a street. Like they’ll think of a more elegant ending later, this sign is just a placeholder, whatever. I’d like to add a question mark to it, honestly. 

Shot for Shot: Eian Kantor + Daniel Schwartz // South Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Shot for Shot: Eian Kantor + Daniel Schwartz
South Williamsburg, Brooklyn
July 28, 2018

Daniel and I met because of a Facebook post. Newly back on Facebook, I threw my portfolio in a post, asking for friends to pass it around. A former band-mate, Justin, commented with Daniel's name and said that we should meet up.

We chose to hang out in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn on July 28, 2018 and take photos. Both coming from Jewish backgrounds, we've always been intrigued by the insular life of the Ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish communities.

Daniel is a native of Jackson Heights, Queens, but now lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He is the travel editor at Fathom. He is on Instagram as @hellowithyou.

These photos were taken with digital cameras. Click an image to make it larger.

We hope you enjoy the photos and the commentary!

- Eian

EK: It was late afternoon, nearing the end of Shabbat. I saw three boys riding these bikes up the street with excitement and confidence. I took a few shots to try and capture them all ridin' dirty, but could only catch this one boy in focus. I loved his smirk, even if you can only see it on the very slight left side of his mouth.

DS: I love the positioning of this chair. As if it was waiting for whoever last sat in it to return. I found it like this. I can take no credit for how perfectly placed it is within the scene. It's an entity in and of itself.

EK: This photo speaks to me on a few levels. For one, Daniel and I both stopped to take this shot from different angles (I didn't know this until he sent me the images later on). When I saw the difference between our photographs of this exact same moment in time, it made me think long and hard about how people -- especially photographers -- can see something the same moment and conceptualize it completely uniquely. On another level, the contrast between presumably the older sister, the mom, and the two younger daughters is stark. The tones of the blue, black, and pink glistened in a way that represented degrees of maturity.

DS: This makes me think of my own childhood, when I attended Yeshiva for three years. I never rode the bus to school, my mother always took me in on the train and city bus. Both were required to reach Kew Gardens from Jackson Heights. The stuff that would go down in the classroom and on the playground was crazy enough, can’t imagine what it was like on the school bus. I feel for all the kids on this bus that don’t want to be there.

EK: I know people are going to give me shit for comparing Hasidic jews to pigeons, but these three pigeons reminded me of three Hasidic men walking we had seen earlier in our walk. All coated with slightly different feathers, the three pigeons stood on this awning in contemplation. On a completely different note, my grandmother's name was Tzipporah, which means "small bird." These pigeons reminded me of her. 

EK: A young man walks away from me. I have no idea where he was coming from and I have no idea where he was going, but the wind flowing through his side curls made for a nice capture (despite it being a bit blurry).

DS: She slammed the door so hard after this. I wonder whether she always slams the door that hard or whether she was sick of photographers like myself trying to sneak a peek into her life. She could’ve also been having a rough day. She was pounding down the street before I took this. Her son doesn’t look all that calm, either. Again, was it her or was it me. 

DS: We walked passed each other. I thought to myself, funny how they almost look like monks in those outfits. Parents love coordinating their kids’ outfits around here. Must be more affordable to buy the same clothes for all your kids. No wanting what the other has. We both turned around and looked back as I took this shot.

EK: There's a certain solitude about this shopping cart that I love. On Shabbat in South Williamsburg, the streets are quiet. Almost nobody is out. It feels like a ghost town, yet you know the buildings are filled with the observant praying. This shopping cart left on the street is a reminder of how things stop in time during the religious hours of ultra-orthodox judaism.

DS: I love the contrast here. Not just technically: the four of them and their shadows against the afternoon sun, two dark-haired women leading two blond children across the street. I mean the fact that they’re walking the line between two worlds. Their Hasidic community on one side; a public housing building on the other. Two different worlds entirely. That’s Brooklyn for ya. 

EK: There is something really special about the way this baby's hand is placed on his/her father's shoulder while the family stands enthralled by MTA track maintenance on Broadway. In walking around around the Hasidic community a few times it seems that women -- mothers and daughters -- take the mostly take care of the children, and I thought this moment between a child and a father was endearing.

DS: These two were walking behind me, so I decided to camp out by this railing, behind a tuft of greenery, and wait until they rounded the corner to grab this shot. I love the slight smirk on his face. What on earth is he thinking? Most folks in this part of town look away if they see you have a camera in-hand, so it was nice to catch a genuine expression. They didn’t see me waiting there at all.

EK: Something about the light, the shadows, and the nature of tough manual labor inspired me to take this photo. These folks must have been really hot. They were working hard, trying to get our subway system to function better.

DS: This feels voyeuristic to me. Almost like I’m looking at something I shouldn’t be. The jacket was left so open and exposed. Its color — blush, almost the color of skin — and its soft texture makes me think of a woman’s body. Its small size is also curious. Who did it belong to? How old was she? How did it end up like this? I’m left with so many questions. I also love how I came across a Forever 21 women’s blazer in Hasidic Williamsburg.

The Shot for Shot Project

The Shot for Shot Project

Shot for Shot is a collaborative, living photography project that explores how two photographers’ backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives impact the photos they take.

For a few hours, another photographer and I explore a neighborhood in New York City, documenting the experience in our own unique ways. Then we see what the other eyes saw and talk about it.

Hope you enjoy!

Cheers,

Eian