STEVEN IRBY, PHOTOGRAPHY AS URBAN EXPLORATION

Photography can serve a variety of purposes, but Steven Irby uses it for a very specific one: as a tool for urban exploration. His insatiable fascination for the city of New York has turned him into a true chronicler of life in the city, always searching for forgotten spaces that are crying out to be rediscovered.

Black and white. Something extremely powerful exists in the black and white for so many photographers to practise it as if it were a religion. In Steven Irby’s case, known on Instagram (where he has almost 200k followers) under the fun alias of @stevesweatpants, we also have to recognise that he doesn’t exclusively practise in black and white and, in fact, many of his snapshots don’t only turn to colour, but they do so to highlight the sublime light of a city as fascinating as New York being depicted from high above. From a point of view (in a helicopter, we believe) that is inaccessible for tourists and most locals.

And Steven Irby, co-founder of Street Dreams magazines, has turned the city of New York into ailment for his photographic imagery. He himself states that he’s eternally fascinated by suspicious rooftops, abandoned train stations and decaying hospitals. He has become a true hunter of forgotten spaces that, camera in hand, he doesn’t only intend to rediscover, but he also wants to bring them back to life to discover an unprecedented New York to anyone who’d like to see.

Prada, by the way, wanted to see. Big time. And that’s why they chose Irby to photograph New York from high above with the excuse of the launch of their Black perfume. And it’s difficult to know if Miuccia’s brand was conscious of the fact that Black really suited someone like Steven Irby, who’s a big fan of black and white, as the photographer made the most of the action with a whole ensemble of panoramic photographs in which the city seen nowadays feels like an ancestral and timeless totem, infinitely magnanimous and overflowing with a mysterious and seductive magic.

Now, it would be absurd for Irby to limit the talent of his camera to buildings and spaces, and just by looking at his Instagram account you’ll see stars like basketball player D’Angelo Russell, designer Dapper Dan or singers Lil Wayne, Jorja Smith and Tyler, The Creator. There’s also plenty of anonymous faces in Steven Irby’s photography, precisely because these faces are also forgotten spaces upon which the true intrahistory of New York is written on. An intrahistory that can only be figured out by a true urban explorer… And that’s precisely the role which, for a long time now, Irby has been carrying out. Because our ancestors used tales to write a story, but this photographer is a clear example that, in that respect, a picture says what words fail to convey.