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, aerial photographer Peter Massini shares a series of warm-weather shots. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
Last summer, multi-disciplinary photographer Peter Massini shared one of his aerial series with 6sqft that captures NYC’s hidden rooftop patios and gardens. In his latest collection, he’s taken a look down at the city’s more publicly accessible green spaces–parks, ballfields, lawns, and more. Though we’ve seen many of these locations, like Central Park and Arthur Ashe Tennis Center, more times than we can count, we’ve never experienced them like this before, from 1,500 feet in the air. By shooting from a helicopter, Peter is able to get a unique perspective on recreation in the city and just how vast some of these locales actually are.
How did you get into aerial photography?
A number of years back, I was a location photographer doing a lot of advertising and corporate work. While on a shoot for a paper mill opening on Staten Island, I was asked by the client if I’d ever shot from a helicopter before. The company had a helicopter flying in the CEO for the opening, and I met with the pilot for a bit, learned safety procedures like how to strap in, and then we took the door off and away we went. We tracked a tugboat and barge full of recycled paper motoring down the Hudson River across New York Harbor to the mill on Staten Island. I really loved it and decided it’s what I wanted to do, and now it’s almost 100% of my business.
What’s the experience like hanging out of the door of a helicopter to get these shots?
There’s nothing like flying in a helicopter. The combination of slow speeds and the proximity to the earth below creates a truly amazing experience and offers me an intimacy with the city and flight itself. When looking straight down between your feet everything seems to slow down and you somehow feel even more a part of New York than if you were on the ground.
Do you have a favorite subject that you like to capture from above?
In the past I’ve savored cityscapes and will always continue to work on these, but as of late I’m focusing on what I call extractions, where I take a part or slice out of the city and extract it from the rest of the metropolis to present it in a unique and meaningful way. Some of these have been shots of people interacting with their surrounds, but recently I’ve been most interested in creating very graphic patterned images of infrastructure, including buildings, landscaping, and roadways.
Tell us a bit more about this geometric style?
I’m attracted to the patterns and geometric shapes because I think we use them to provide some sort of order in a world of disorder. In such a fascinating city, full of infrastructure and superstructure, there’s an amazing amount of disorder that from above becomes visually more organized. I believe a lot of art, music, science and math is an arrangement of patterns made to help us with our need for organization, amusement, and our need to learn.
You’ve been doing this for quite a while now, but have any of your recent projects surprised you?
On a recent project I shot for Adidas, I seemed to discover the sporting side of NYC. I shot aerials at numerous sporting locations around Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, looking straight down on spots such as the Verazzano Bridge, the start of the NYC Marathon, Arthur Ashe Tennis Center, Citifield and various recreational sporting facilities. It was a very high altitude for a helicopter and I discovered a whole new way of seeing New York. The shots will be black-and-white and will grace the walls of the new Adidas flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
Untermeyer Fountain and the Conservatory Garden at the north end of Central Park; the statue is Walter Schott’s “Three Dancing Maidens”
Tarr Family Playground at West 100th Street and West Drive, Central Park
Heckscher Playground Central Park at 62nd Street
Bethesda Fountain with the Angel of the Waters statue atop, mid Central Park, north side of 72nd Street
The motorized boats in the Conservatory Water in Central Park
Cherry Hill Fountain in Central Park; this ornate fountain is the crowning centerpiece of a circular concourse at the crest of Cherry Hill. The circle was designed as a scenic turn-around for carriages, and the Victorian fountain as a watering trough for horses.
Belvedere Castle in Central Park
Heckscher Ball Fields, south Central Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park, Piers 5 and 6
Riverbank State Park; Hudson River between West 138th and 145th Streets
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
- Aerial Photographer Peter Massini Captures NYC’s Hidden Rooftop Patios and Gardens
- The Urban Lens: Fly over NYC during ‘golden hour’
- Check Out George Steinmetz’s Stunning Aerial Photos of ‘New’ New York
All photographs © Peter Massini
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