“The people in the photos are all strangers,” NYC photographer and filmmaker Daniel Soares tells us, “And I make up these stories in my head, about why they are going to get beer or cigarettes at 1:00 AM.” He’s created Neon Nights over the course of many midnight walks through the hushed side-streets of the city.
For the most part, Soares leaves home at around 8:00 at night, always on foot. His favorite haunts are in Chinatown, though he also has a few other secret spots in the tucked-away neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens. After dark, the city dissolves and reconfigures itself into someplace new. “It’s kinda magical,” the artist admits, “it’s when the madness settles down.” He stays out for just an hour on some nights, but on others, he keeps awake until the sunrise.
Writer James Davidson of We Heart finds echoes of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks in Neon Nights, and he’s right. But Soares’s work, ultimately, is as much about connection as it is about isolation. By daylight, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd, but at night, perhaps we can find a respite from solitude. The strangers in Neon Nights can be whatever and whomever we imagine them to be. “I love strangers,” the artists says.
Finding the perfect stranger takes time and dedication. In winter especially, the conditions are difficult: “Your legs start to get numb, and your eyes start to close from all the cold,” Soares writes. But it’s worth the pain. “Sometimes you see a great shot, but it’s missing the human interaction,” the artist explains, “So I wait until the right person comes into frame.”
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All images © Daniel Soares