Street Photographer Hunts Down Life’s Uncanny Coincidences

Jonathan Higbee - Street Photography

All street photographers are hunters in one way or another, seeking out the perfect moments in life to frame an exceptional image. Jonathan Higbee takes this to another level through his work, which is based on observational skills so sharp they expertly pull out the instances in which people and objects align perfectly. The results are photographs that reveal the subtle coincidences that occur in daily life, ones that often go unnoticed unless captured in a still frame.

Higbee uses items in the urban environment—advertisements, architecture, graffiti—and seeks out moments where human interaction intersects to create a new narrative. Higbee, who was a finalist in the 2018 Hasselblad Masters Awards, first came upon the “coincidence” project by chance. After a day out shooting in Manhattan, he was back at home photo editing when he came upon something he hadn't realized when photographing a glass-covered subway entrance.

Jonathan Higbee - Street Photography

“I came to this photograph and noticed something I had missed while making it—or at least wasn't consciously aware of while shooting—a man reaching out to pull back a friend as the two seemingly teetered on the edge of the towering skyscrapers,” Higbee tells My Modern Met. “The unbelievable coincidence infused the image with an interesting, riveting narrative that elevated the work substantially. I was instantly hooked. I've been intentionally hunting the city for uncanny coincidences ever since.”

Higbee typically shoots daily, taking along a small camera that allows him to capture any moment he sees, even when out with friends or running errands. His technique differs from many street photographers, who roam the streets and shoot along the way. Higbee quickly realized that in order to find the coincidences he was after, he'd need to try another method. This led him to scout a location and sit in wait—often returning over the course of several weeks—until the coincidence reveals itself.

It's a technique he first tested in 2015, and one of his favorite images is a testament to its success. In fact, he considers it the photograph that jumpstarted his career and allowed him to understand how he could unfold the work into a larger project. The image shows a man taking a photo with his camera, which aligns perfectly with a mural that engulfs what appears to be an unsuspecting model. Achieving it was a hard-fought victory.

Jonathan Higbee Contemporary Street Photography

“When I first found this location (a city block-sized Google Play ad in Times Square), I loved the graphic, minimal and clean background, so I decided to hang out for a half hour or so and see what unfolded. An hour went by and I still had nothing I was proud of on my SD card. But I could sense the potential for something great here, so I pledged to return as many times as necessary for that potential to be realized. I returned every afternoon for weeks on end!

“After almost a month of devoting my shooting to this spot, I was going to call it a lost cause and move on to another scene. Then this decisive moment materialized before my lens! So now, when I stumble upon a location that sends a tingle down my spine, I'll return to it for as many days as possible until I either get the shot or the billboard/street art/etc. has been taken down. This photograph is the one that jumpstarted my career while at the same time changing my approach to, and philosophy on, shooting the streets.”

Jonathan Higbee Contemporary Street Photographer

Higbee's work shows dedication, a quick wit, and even quicker trigger finger, as spying these moments and catching them before they pass by is a skill honed from years of careful practice. It's work that encourages viewers to open their eyes to new perspectives, and delight in the small details of life.

Street photographer Jonathan Higbee specializes in capturing clever coincidences that occur when humans and objects in the urban environment intersect.

Jonathan Higbee - Street PhotographyJonathan Higbee Contemporary Street PhotographerJonathan Higbee Contemporary Street PhotographyJonathan Higbee Contemporary Street Photographer

“If my work makes even one person pause and smile, maybe even laugh, then I've done my job.”

Jonathan Higbee Contemporary Street PhotographerJonathan Higbee Street PhotographerJonathan Higbee Contemporary Street PhotographyJonathan Higbee - Street Photographer

“I hope my work gives viewers a passion for modern street photography, which has evolved in exciting, conceptual ways that I'm so proud of.”

Jonathan Higbee Contemporary Street PhotographerJonathan Higbee Street PhotographerJonathan Higbee Contemporary Street Photography

“For those who are already fans of the street genre, I want my work to break boundaries and question preconceived dogmas.”

Jonathan Higbee Contemporary Street PhotographerJonathan Higbee Contemporary Street Photographer

Jonathan Higbee: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to use images by Jonathan Higbee.

Related Articles:

Photographer Captures Perfectly Framed Photos of Subtle Coincidences

“Coincidence Project” Reveals Perfectly Timed and Serendipitously Aligned Photos of the World

World’s Largest Street Photography Platform Highlights International Emerging Talent

Photographer Spends 9 Years on One Street Corner Capturing Same Commuters Every Day

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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