NYC Urchin chats with filmmaker/photographer and local New Yorker, Nathan Kensinger. While his photos are aesthetically magnetic, the stories behind them are even more awe-inspiring. Here’s a taste of his mission and work, but we suggest you take a further look for yourself…
Have you always lived in NY?
I’ve lived in Brooklyn since 2003, but I grew up in San Francisco.
Do you dabble in any other art forms?
Besides photography, I am also a documentary filmmaker. My films have screened at independent film festivals around the country: Slamdance, Rooftop, Boston Underground, SF Indie Fest, Black Maria…
What kind of cameras do you use?
I shoot with a Nikon digital SLR.
What attracts you to the quieter, abandoned parts of the city?
New York has the largest population in the country, with over 8 million people. Sometimes you want to get away from the crowds, and to have no one around. There’s a surprising amount of empty, quiet, abandoned places in the city, far from Times Square.
Does your photography take you to some interesting spots?
Definitely. I’ve found some amazing places in New York while taking photos. Over the summer, I visited a hospital ruin on Governors Island, slept on an abandoned boat in the Rockaways, and went camping near the beach in Staten Island. Other than that, I’ve photographed lots of other interesting cities – Havana, Tokyo, Paris, Bologna, Seattle…
What type of response do you hope to activate in your viewers?
I hope that my photographs inspire people to look at their surroundings differently, and to think about their neighborhoods in a new light. We are surrounded by forgotten stories, abandoned places, and layers of history. Some of this is beautiful and some of it is ugly.
What do you love about NY?
New York never ceases to surprise. And its layers appear to be endless. No one will ever get to know the city in its entirety.
What do you dislike about NY?
The rent is too damn high.
Where can we see your photos in person?
My next exhibit will be at the 92Y Tribeca, as part of the Doomsday Film Festival & Symposium, which takes place on October 21-23. I’ll be exhibiting photographs of post-apocalyptic New York landscapes.
How are you involved in the Brooklyn Film Festival?
I’m the Director of Programming for the Brooklyn Film Festival, which means I select which films make it into the festival. We receive about 2,500 submissions a year, and we select about 100 movies for the festival, which takes place every June.