My name is James Maher and I’m a Street Photographer from New York. I also shoot events and portraits for a living, but street photography is my passion.
I got into photography in the early 2000s after downloading a bootleg copy of Photoshop to create templates to make fake IDs for a large portion of my college.
I bought a Canon 10D camera and 24-70mm lens (which I still use for events) with the money I made, thankfully never got caught, and was hooked ever since.
I’ve been capturing New York since then, trying to often get lost and explore at all times of the day and in all types of weather. Exploring is my primary way of keeping my anxiety down in a city that causes a lot of that.
I’ve also been fascinated with the history of New York and became a certified tour guide in 2012. I now lead photography tours and street photography workshops around the city, mixing education, sightseeing, and New York history for people from all over the world.
I’m as much of a Fuji fan as is possible. I purchased the first version of the Fujifilm FinePix X100 in 2012 and have been using that line of camera ever since (I currently use the FujiFilm X100T version).
In my opinion, it is the perfect camera for street photography, when you consider ergonomics, size, price, and image quality. I primarily use the built-in 23mm (35mm full-frame equivalent) lens and the Fujifilm TCL-X100 II Tele Conversion Lens (50mm full-frame equivalent).
I use a Gordy black leather camera strap, a Thumbs Up EP-5S Grip, and an Abrahamsson Black Mini Soft Release. All three of these accessories make the camera much easier to handle and shoot with. I carry a ton of batteries with me as well.
The Fuji is my crazy street corner Manhattan camera. I carry it as often as possible and nobody ever notices me photographing them with it. While I shoot in color with this camera, about 80% of the work from it ends up in black and white.
Last year, I purchased the Medium Format Fujifilm GFX 50R with the Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 (50mm equivalent) lens and the Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5 (40mm equivalent) “pancake” lens. The reason was that I wanted to change up how I shot for a different project, which I started this year.
I moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn and as I set out to explore the borough like I had Manhattan over the previous few decades, I wanted to do it a little differently. I wanted to create this project strictly in color and so I wanted the depth and quality of color that the GFX provides.
While I can use this camera without being noticed, it is much larger than the FujiFilm X100T, and I actually see this as a plus. The streets where I am shooting are quieter, it is harder to capture people candidly, and, this may sound counter intuitive but, I wanted to be more obvious even if I was shooting candidly.
With the larger camera, I feel that it makes me seem like I belong there and it shows I’m not afraid of or questioning what I’m doing. Also, I’ve been planning a portrait aspect for the project and the GFX is wonderful for portraits.
With the complexities and details in the environment here in Brooklyn, the resolution and overall image quality were also important factors as well, although I’m not one to believe that you need a lot of resolution to do great street photography.
Finally, my go-to camera bag is the ONA Bowery. It’s the perfect size for both systems and keeps me light with all the walking that I do.
New York is an incredible place to live, be, and photograph. I’m not sure I would be able to survive anywhere else to be honest (I suck at driving and need a 24-hour deli nearby). But it is changing quickly and drastically. This city has its amazing aspects and it has its significant issues.
Manhattan particularly, but also much of the rest of the city, is getting more expensive, more crowded, gentrified, you name it. A lot of the old character is being smothered and there is often a different feel on the street from what there used to be.
That’s a lot of what I photograph these days. It’s unfortunate but fascinating.
However, if you get off-the-beaten-path, get lost, explore further out, there is so much of the city that remains true to what it’s always been. And those are areas that I am currently searching for.