Richard Sandler’s still photos run deep

Between 1977 and 2001, Richard Sandler walked the streets of Boston and New York City with a Leica in hand, constantly taking photos of strangers. In his book, The Eyes of the City, the photographer and photo-journalist showcases an impressive retrospective of decades worth of work.

From the subway to the streets, Sandler’s black and white street photography tapped into the pulse of the cities he shot in. He captured the grit and the glamor, the beauty and the decay, the surface and a glimpse into the psyche. The fascinating collection is “a cyclone of faces, furs and filth,” says TIME.

The book’s title is a nod to Sandler’s skilled eye at capturing a scene just as much as it is about the eyes of the characters he’s frozen in time. “It’s about getting photographs where either people are looking in a penetrating way at me or looking at something else in a very interesting way that maybe poses a bunch of questions. So it is my eyes; I’m seeing these things. But it’s a two-way street and two kinds of pictures,” Sandler said.

In recent years Sandler has chosen documentary filmmaking over still photography as he believes the proliferation of cell phones has taken the life out of his subjects. “There is nothing more boring, nothing more nondescript and vacant than a person on a cell phone walking down the street. They seem to be out of the game,” Sandler said. “People are walking around in bubbles.”

Ironically, the rise of social media has given Sandler the strongest following of his career. His voice, ignored by the art photography world for so long, has finally found its place in contemporary conversation.

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