Friday, December 7, 2012

Colin Gray’s surreal photographs of a devastated New York

The photographer headed back into Manhattan the day after Sandy to see the hurricane devastation himself but was struck by something different

After two days stuck inside after the hurricane Sandy, VH1 and MTV photographer and photo editor Colin Gray and some of his friends had to see some of the effects of the hurricane for themselves. With no trains running they walked into the heart of Manhattan.

“The only way we could get there was by walking. As soon as we crossed over the Williamsburg Bridge is when we first saw the signs of the devastation and power outages.”

Picking up his camera from the MTV offices in Times Square, Gray was struck by the feeling that it seemed like nothing had happened, but south of 26th street it was a different story.

“With all of my landscape images, I rarely include people, and these images aren’t any different. The lack of power soon became the focus of the images. Many of the locations we went to were places I had been many times before, but I was curious to see how they had changed without their normal lighting, Gray says. “Without any street lamps or light from buildings, the only light came from cars and emergency vehicles. It was incredible to see the colored lights from them and how they illuminated the buildings without any interference from other light sources.”

Gray’s series isn’t so much about putting the devastation of hurricane Sandy in full view - it’s subtler than that. It’s about how the devastation can be hidden in plain view and how surreal a situation can become when you experience a city plunged into darkness when it is normally one of the busiest, fast paced and brightly lit in the world.

“As I began editing the photos, I was concerned that I didn’t have enough pictures of real devastation, and that the series wouldn’t really tell the whole story of the wrath of the hurricane. But I realised that this work was less about documenting devastation and more about the surreal world that this unique situation created.”

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