Photographs by Peter Liepke are tributes to New York, laced with nostalgia and the ambitious spirit that the city embodies. He creates mystifying images of its iconic landmarks and thoroughfares, captured in luminous scenes of black, white, and sepia. Remarkably, Liepke’s photographs don’t look like photographs at all. Misty and blurred with gradations of light and shadow, his images often look closer to charcoal drawings.
In order to capture the quintessential feeling of seeing New York City for the first time, Liepke works in the moment, never staging his works or the passersbys who enter his vantage point. He will sit in one spot for hours on end, until he can take the perfect shot, using his century-old 4x5 large format Graflex film camera. Once he’s taken a photograph, Liepke then combines both platinum/palladium and gum bichromate processes to realize his works. “In our digital age of rapid fire cameras and gigabytes I believe my methodology and approach projects my contemporary vision forward, while at the same time celebrating the roots of photography in its purest form,” the artist explains in a statement about his work.
His work Ladies & Gentlemen, The Chrysler Building features a grand curtain that has been drawn back from a window, to frame of one of the most iconic buildings in New York. Light floods in from the window in a haze, creating a dreamlike aura. Another ethereal work, Bronx Bound #4, features the 4 subway train arriving on tracks above bustling city streets, the lights from both the train and shops beneath giving off a warm glow.
“Maybe my visual philosophy contradicts the medium of photography itself,” Liepke has said. “But if we don’t hold true to our own vision, then why bother doing it?”