© Balarama Heller / Offset

In the summer of 2001, photographer Balarama Heller frequently left the Magnum Photos office, where he worked as an intern, and wandered the streets of New York, capturing the spirited city and all its diversity. He was drawn to the elongated, dramatic shadows of early evening, the flurry of passing foot traffic.

One day in August, Heller walked south to Chelsea Piers, as he often did, and soon discovered a sequestered hangout for LGBT youth living in East New York and the Bronx. He explains that for the couples he met, the area was a safe space where they could be themselves and show affection for their partners. When he asked permission to capture their moment of passion, they immediately agreed, becoming more and more expressive as the shutter clicked.

Validating the experience of this courageous band of teenagers, the enlivened black and white portrait celebrates the exuberance of adolescent love freed from prejudice. Says Heller, “This image to me is a total affirmation of what I love about New York, a place where nearly any group of people can create pockets of relative security to express their identity.”

This photo and many others from Heller’s portfolio are available through Offset, a new curated collection of high-end commercial and editorial photography and illustration from award-winning artists around the world. Offset is an exclusive category channel partner on Feature Shoot.

Discover More