6sqft’s ongoing series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, fine art and portrait photographer James Maher exposes the changing face of NYC post 9/11. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
It all started at the University of Madison in Wisconsin with a surprisingly successful fake ID “business,” which was James Maher’s first introduction to portraiture and Photoshop. After moving back to his hometown of New York post-graduation, Maher studied at the International Center for Photography, assisted commercial photographers, and became a certified tour guide, exploring the architecture and streetscapes of the city. In 2006, he opened his own photography business, combining his varied interests, which also come through in his black-and-white series “Luxury for Lease,” where New Yorkers are captured candidly against the background of New York. In it, Maher exposes how quickly things changed in the years after 9/11; instead of coming for “acceptance and freedom” and “a culture of creativity,” wealthy persons from the suburbs and elsewhere began to move back “with an insatiable appetite.” By snapping photos of distracted New Yorkers, many of whom are zombie-fied staring at their phones, Maher examines the “disconnection, hyper-gentrification, conformity, and consumerism” that’s infiltrated our streets.