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Nighttime New Jersey devoid of people

New Jersey photographer Matthew Dempsey used to live in Hoboken in New Jersey, a city across the Hudson River from Manhattan. After fifteen years of looking across the water at “the city that never sleeps”, he and his wife decided to leave all that behind.

They moved back to his hometown further west to raise a family of their own. Now in a quieter place, Dempsey describes this move back west as a catalyst for his recent work Nighttime. The majority of the photographs shown here were taken in and around his hometown.

After graduating with a BFA in Fine Art, the artist found his personal work gave way to the business side of photography. He was working as a commercial photographer, building a post-production company and consulting on large projects.

“I remember being in upstate New York and driving by a motel one night that had bright red doors and a full moon behind it,” he says on the inspiration behind his photographs taken in lowlight conditions. “Revisiting that scene [at the motel] later was the start of my Nighttime series. Interiors have been a primary focus of my work, as I have an affinity for artificial light, so this transition into night photography seemed to be a natural progression.”

“As a culture we are constantly overstimulated and distracted by being wired into the fast paced world we live in,” says the artist. “There is great calm and peace in finding a quiet, empty space free of distraction.That stillness makes us more mindful of our surroundings—and of ourselves.” Dempsey has found that stillness in his nighttime drives.

When asked why his photographs are devoid of people, Dempsey says: “People just mess up a perfect shot. I have no interest in how people interact with a space or scene. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy working at night, when I don’t need to worry about the obstruction from unwanted people, minus the occasional police stop.”

A number of Dempsey’s photographs have been selected for The Print Swap, an ongoing initiative organised by Feature Shoot, where photographers have the opportunity to grow their collections and communities by swapping carefully curated prints. “The Print Swap has been a great experience,” he says. “I love acquiring work from other photographers, and this has been a great way to add to my collection. I enjoy the surprise of opening that envelope and not knowing what you’re going to get.”

All images © Matthew Dempsey

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