Ludlow Street<br />
Manhattan, NY (2018)

About the Photos


At first look, most people would call these pictures “street photography" – candid scenes of day-to-day life. They would be correct. 


In many ways though, I consider them to be “anti-street.”


Let me explain.


While I love the energy and chaos of the internet, it seems that much of what passes for street photography in contemporary times are countless hurried and random shots of strangers filling up my social media feeds. It's a firehose of pained expressions on passersby shot from the hip, contorted bodies, women in revealing clothes, disadvantaged persons without defense, or faceless silhouettes in cold shadows.


Those particular photos often seem to say more about the photographer’s skills as a camera-based predator and the technical qualities of their equipment. The photographer’s name and personality become the subject of attention, and the person being photographed seems to be little more than an object fetishized or exploited in return for likes or follows from a madly scrolling public. It all begins to look the same. It seems rushed, derivative, and sometimes aggressive. Empty and alienating.


There's another way. It involves photographing from the heart, and not the head. While many of my photographs have street qualities, they are not simply unplanned and accidental candids. There's some intention I believe.


In a 2016 New Yorker magazine piece titled “Loneliness Belongs to the Photographer,” Hanya Yanagihara describes the act of bearing gentle and silent witness with a camera. It’s when the photographer willingly and deliberately makes themselves anonymous in order to give visibility to an otherwise overlooked instance in another life.


In other words, a simple and uncomplicated moment in one person’s life becomes recognized by the world as something valuable because the photographer says, “Don’t think about me. Look instead at how fleeting and beautiful life is.”


Names and personalities are irrelevant. Humanity becomes most important...the story and the moment, the common emotion, the shared light. 


I especially appreciate photos that seem a little uncertain. Such works require the viewer to see more thoughtfully, to open up, and to become invested before fully understanding. Ego and aggression are forgotten, and in the space, between seeing and knowing, feeling and empathy flow in. At least for a moment, you are not alone.


Someone once told me, “I can’t look at your photos too long. They make me think too much.” I took that as a compliment.


I've made countless photographs over the years, but these are the ones I want to share right now. Some deal with individuals in public places. Some show a unique moment or quality of light. In a few, I see humor. In others, the subject is lost in their own world, and I, as the photographer, feel a little lost as well. For me, there's comfort in returning to the same subway platforms, bus stops, and street corners months or years later. Familiar ground.


Most of the time, I notice individuals rather than wide street scenes. My eye looks for the frame. If it tells the story for me, I'll crop a photo down to only one subject. It may be a doorman waiting solemnly outside a theater where a benefit for shooting victims is taking place. Perhaps it's a young couple, looking a little downtrodden, seeking shelter from the cold pouring rain at dawn. It may be a girl in a subway car texting someone she loves. 


In any case, I like to believe that despite all the alienation one often feels in our modern world, we can still maintain some sort of connection by noticing one another. What a privilege it can be to look, and look again. On se pose et on regarde nouveau...


To me, a successful photograph is an act of love.


About Me

I retired at the age of 58 from a full-time career as an educator and naturalist so I could take more photos on my own. Up until that point, I had made mostly photos for work…shots of my students, nature photos for class, landscapes. I’ve had numerous photos published professionally, and I’ve had many selected for exhibitions. Several of my works are in private collections. I'm active in a small gallery in my town. But I continue to move toward something more personal and candid.

Currently grooving on Calexico and Better Call Saul. For more information on my work, to find out about buying a print, or just to say hello, feel free to get in touch: joelrhymer@gmail.com


Recent Exhibitions

"The Streets." Online Exhibition. The Pomonan. thepomonan.com  2021.

"Standing Up." Invitational Show. Violence Transformed, Cambridge, MA 2021.

"30 Over 50." Juried Show. Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO. 2021.

"Life." Juried Show. A Smith Gallery, Johnson City, TX. 2021.

"Finding the Light." Juried Show. Photoplace Gallery, Middlebury, VT. 2021.

Selected works. Freedom Gallery, Freedom, NH. 2016 - present.

Selected works. Merriman House, North Conway, NH. 2018-present.

"The Curated Fridge" Group Show. Somerville, MA. 2020

Solo Exhibition. Cook Memorial Library, Tamworth, NH. 2019

Solo exhibition. Freedom Public Library, Freedom, NH. 2018

Selected works. Arabica Coffee, Portland, ME. 2018

Group Show. Pace Galleries of Art, Fryeburg, ME. 2017

"The Curated Fridge" Juried Show. Somerville, MA 2017

"Dreams and More." Juried Show. Southeastern Center for Photography, Greenville, SC. 2016


Recent Publications

"So It Goes." Journal of The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library. 2020

The Sun Magazine, August, 2020.

"3 Elements Review." Literary Journal. Spring, 2020.

"American Vision." Selected works published in US of America magazine, Issue 3, Winter 2018.

Cover Photo. Baker & Taylor Promotional Calendar. 2016


Some Organizations and Institutions Who Have Used My Photos

National Audubon Society, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, American Museum of Natural History, Earthwatch Institute, Fryeburg Academy (ME), Freedom Public Library (NH), Mount Washington Observatory (NH), Merriman House Memorial Hospital (NH), New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.


I've even got a photo credit in National Geographic, but you'll have to buy me a drink before you hear the story.


Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In