Few photographer’s work connect with us like Shawn Hoke’s work does. It just looks and feels “right” to us. The shots are that perfect combination of technical prowess and effortlessly looking results, un-choked by fussiness and ready to echo as documents for eternity. It’s somehow really comforting to us to know that he’s out there, in the streets, day after day, nervously and anxiously and deftly capturing just the type of things we clutch our heads about at night, worrying ceaselessly that they will be lost for ever, undocumented. His subjects matter. Just look at Shawn’s photo of Sunny’s Bar in the snow. We can feel the bitter wind off the water down the street, smell the rot from the ancient weather damaged wood door and patiently wait for the tangle of wires to start to sway slightly in that awful damp cold wind. The barely visible icy cobble stones almost excite us more than the vintage pickup truck out front. It’s as if Shawn has managed to compile a visual mission statement for what we do everyday. And he shoots primarily film. Still.
We were lucky enough to meet Shawn and his wife Kate (also a photographer) last Sunday on our East Village Store Front walking tour. It’s hard to describe how happy we were not to be disappointed. We loved his work online, but sometimes meeting someone in real life is an entirely different kettle of fish all together and you end up wishing you had just stayed in the lab, doing your own thing, quietly appreciating their work through the screen of, …well a screen. As we walked around the East Village we were struck how the four of us all seemed to see the same things and shared the excitement in seeing that certain things have survived and still exist in spite of monumental challenges. A narrow townhouse, sculptures on building facades, signs, stainless steel fronts, wood all face a daily battle with time, changing demographics, nation-wide financial calamities,… on and on. Shawn explained how he feels he has to shoot his photos of the city immediately, because an hour, let alone a day later, things may have been swept away. Gone. Forever. You simply can’t wait and come back. Thanks to Shawn and Kate for inspiring us and motivating us to keep going out there and to continue to try to get the job done, the work of documenting things that matter, things that are often lost, insidiously, unnoticed, and unchecked. Check out Shawn’s work:
Also check out Shawn and Kate’s thoughts on the Store Front walking tour:
““Store Front” is probably the most important book about New York that’s been released in the last 25 years.”
“For a while, every time we were in a bookstore, Shawn would visit Store Front in the same way that I always spray the tester of Chloe fragrance at Sephora.”