The day after Christmas, New York was hit with a massive snowstorm that blanketed parts of the state with nearly two feet of snow. Its sixth-worst on record, the blizzard became a headache for anyone trying to get in or out of the area. Called Snowpocalypse 2010, the storm wasn't all doom and gloom as some people actually found ways to enjoy it.
Meet 30-year-old aspiring photographer Navid Baraty. He was brave enough to venture out during and after the event. “As soon as I heard a blizzard was headed toward NYC, I got very excited,” he tells us. “I made sure my memory cards were emptied, the camera batteries charged, and got the camera settings ready for shooting. I wasn't about to let a perfect photo opportunity pass me by. It was sort of the same sort of excitement I felt when I was in Japan last year and learned that a typhoon was headed our way. While many people would probably prefer to stay inside during blizzards and typhoons, I embrace the opportunity to experience and photograph the forces of nature.”
Facing high winds, Baraty says, “My face and fingers were stinging for much of the time I was out taking shots, and I frequently walked backwards to shield my face from the wind and snow. I'm not sure if the weather was worse during the actual blizzard or on the day after. The following day, snow was piled everywhere and we had really insane wind gusts that were blowing snow and causing near whiteout conditions everywhere. In one of my shots you can really see this demonstrated (last photo in our series).”
When asked how New Yorkers reacted to all that snow here's what Baraty said, “You know, I thought about this question a lot as I walked through the apocalyptic aftermath the next day. The scenario reminded me very much of the day after the tornado hit Brooklyn back in September. Back then, entire trees were uprooted and fell on cars and closed roads everywhere. After the blizzard, the sidewalks were impassable and people got around by walking in the middle of the streets (which were also nearly impassable for several days). But in both instances, there was an overwhelming sense of community bonding. People smiled and greeted each other as they passed in the street, offered helping hands to each other without hesitation, and no one seemed in a rush to get anywhere. Everyone just took a day to stop and marvel at what just happened.”
Looking through Baraty's portfolio, you can't help but notice that he loves to shoot in adverse weather conditions. When I asked him what he enjoyed most about shooting in both rain and snow here's what he said, “I absolutely love shooting in both elements. An image of a rainy or snowy scene can be incredibly powerful and can evoke so much feeling. I love to engage the senses with my work and have my images affect a broad range of people. Everyone can recall the sound of a downpour hitting a roof or the whistling of the bitter wind of a winter storm. Everyone can recall the smell of the humidity in the air before a thunderstorm. Everyone can recall the way that light glistens and reflects off of a wet street. Everyone can recall the cozy feeling of watching the rain or snow from inside of a house or cafe. I want my photographs to take people there.” Here's some more examples of his work.
What's next for this photographer? Baraty's photos have already been published twice in National Geographic as well as in numerous other publications and exhibitions but now, he's taking his career one giant leap forward. “I moved to New York City from San Francisco this past summer to pursue my artistic passion as a photographer,” he says. “It's my first time supporting myself through my art with no stable income. I'd like get photo assignments that combine my desires to travel as much of the Earth as possible and develop into a more journalistic/documentary photographer. Perhaps the question is where will my photography take me from here?”
Good luck, Navid. We're already big fans.