“I think I am the best version of myself when photographing the streets.”
Rising photographer Nicolaus Armani poetically transcribes fragments of quotidian life on the streets of New York City.
There are two elements that immediately stand out when you first set eyes on Armani’s imagery: texture and tone. The symbiotic relationship between the two is extraordinary, engendering a unique tactility that captivates with immediacy.
It instantly brings to mind the work of masters Ernst Haas and Saul Leiter. Both began using color long before it achieved widespread acceptance, and, unsurprisingly, Armani references both as influences on his practice, along with fellow photographic icons, Sergio Larrain, Josef Koudelka, Lisette Model, Harry Gruyaert, and Sabine Weiss, amongst others.
His love of painting is similarly instructive. He credits a diverse list of painters as influences, from Henri Matisse, and fellow Fauvist icon, (and co-architect of cubism with Pablo Piccasso), George Braque; to Edward Hopper, whose work is often compared to photographs; American Precisionist Preston Dickinson, and French trio, Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, and Edgar Degas, each of whom, though stylistically different, are united, not only by nationality but by their masterful, appreciation of tone.
Armani, a New Jersey native, began his photographic journey in 2016. Entirely self-taught, his artistic education was effectuated, not in a classroom, but on the storied streets of nearby New York City, where, following in the footsteps of his heroes, he wandered in search of fleeting instants to immortalize with his lens.
NYC shares an unshakable synonymity with street photography: providing endless stimuli for generations of practitioners. Its unique, intoxicating, essence, or what Armani calls its ‘atmosphere’, is unlike that of anywhere else on earth, and in his words, provides ‘endless opportunities for photographers to find their voice’.
As with so many of his forebears, his approach is intuitive, a prerequisite, perhaps, due to the freneticism of the city that has been his most important muse.
“I do work instinctively. I enjoy searching and finding beautiful things on the street. The less I think about the approach, the more fun I have. A ‘less is more’ sorta approach.”
Poetic and absorbing, his imagery often verges on abstract, resulting from tight framing, or his shooting through windows, their surfaces glazed with neon reflections or droplets of rain. He possesses an impressive apperception of light, evidenced in his manipulation of shadows, form, and color, which creates rich, textural compositions that so catch the eye.
“I think I am the best version of myself when photographing the streets. I love being fully present in the world and enjoy creating photographs from city life. The light, shapes, reflections, and beautifully dressed subjects instill a profound sense of happiness.”
At a time when ‘street’ photography enjoys unprecedented popularity, and, depictions of New York City are as ubiquitous as ever, Armani’s resounding artistic voice cuts through the noise. Though undoubtedly influenced by his illustrious photographic forebears, his work displays a unique and compelling artistry, that speaks to his rare talent and vision and displays the profound potential of chromaticity.
All images © Nicolaus Armani
NB: The 2022 Color Photography Award is open for entries until the end of the month. Enter here.