Cédric Roux travelled to the Big Apple in the middle of the pandemic, to “hunker down” and take photographs. With a twinkle in his eye, he captures the mundane oddities, which otherwise might slip by unnoticed. His “wonderland” is a photographic paradise made up of simple normality, pulsing existence and constant change.
What fascinates you about New York?
I’ve had a strong interest in the USA and more particularly in New York City since I was a teenager. This interest for America comes firstly from my attraction to American basketball, and my love for the cinema quickly refocused me on New York, because it is used as a setting for many films, whether old or modern. For me, New York really appears to be the city where everything is possible and that never stops. New York and the New Yorkers are fascinating because they don’t care what you think of them; they are true to themselves.
What did you focus on for this photographic project?
My project on New York is very simple: I just want to put the spotlight on this, my photographic paradise. Every 50 metres, there is the potential of something happening that interests me. However, the idea for the title only came about during the pandemic. Indeed, locked up at home, I realised that New York would be the ideal place if I had to stay “stuck” somewhere.
What do you want to show with your pictures?
Through my work, I try to show people the things they don’t take the time to see. I like to capture the happy incident when everything falls into place naturally, but also the little things in life, simple, without looking for complex compositions, just life.
Your series also reflects a twinkle in your eye in relation to the Big Apple…
I think that every city can offer humorous scenes. In my opinion, it’s more the general state of mind of the photographer and his ability to play with his environment, that will produce the kind of images that make you smile. The advantage of NYC always comes back to this: the opportunities are more numerous because of the incessant activity and the elements of the repeated scenarios.
You shot with Leica Q and Q2. How did they suit your project?
Not being a hardware geek, I found that the Q range is the ideal camera for my practice. Compact, light, and very discreet, it’s perfect to pass unnoticed in the crowd. Its reaction speed is also an incomparable asset.
How do you put your images in the right “light”?
I’m not a big fan of sitting in front of my computer processing my images in Lightroom; so I do my best to get near to optimal settings when I’m on the street. Then, I spend less than two minutes processing an image. I always add a little bit of luminosity, and luminance, and adjust the colours slightly; but all of it is very fast.
Street photography also often means “waiting”…
I don’t stay locked into a single approach to street photography. Sometimes I find a frame and wait for the elements to come together before I release the shutter; but I’m not very patient, so I tend to go looking for scenes while walking to meet the subjects. Out of the 60 photos in My Wonderland, there are five images maximum where I waited for everything to fit in the frame as I wanted.
After creating your series, is New York still a wonderland for you?
It remains my photographic paradise; and with the accumulation of my times in NY, I know where to be at such or such a time of day to enjoy the light, or the many comings and goings of people. I’ve learned about the habits of New Yorkers and it is a definite advantage to continue to progress and be more efficient on location.
Cédric Roux is a French photographer based in Paris. His initial experience with street photography is tied to New York City, where he first started to familiarise himself with the act and the concept of street photography. Since that day, he continues photographing, working on series and projects around his daily life and occasional journeys. He has been working with Leica since 2017 and exhibits his work in cities all around the world. In June he published his book, My Wonderland – a photographic journey around Manhattan, from Central Park to down-town (Editions Odyssée). Find out more about his photography on his website and Instagram page.
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