New York architect Matt Fleck has been capturing moments for as long as he can remember—through photography, sketching, painting and poetry. His artwork informs his architectural work, and vice versa.
“I’m always trying to be mindful of the little everyday things that are normally overlooked but still beautiful,” Matt says. “That helps me in architecture to appreciate the overall gesture and not forget how important the details are.”
When the coronavirus pandemic hit New York earlier this year, Matt’s iPhone camera became his go-to medium for capturing the beauty in unexpected moments, like empty streets and uncrowded public spaces that made the city feel a completely different place.
“During the early part of the pandemic, the streets emptied out and I’d go for long walks. It felt surreal to have large public spaces to myself, but it also helped me see things that were always there without the distraction of people,” he explains.
When we asked Matt what about New York, in particular, inspires his work, he added, “It’s not specific to a place, it’s a way of seeing the beauty everywhere around you. It’s an attitude or a mindset more than a location.”
In our latest sketchbook interview, Matt shares some of his recent photographs.
“With the photos I’ve shared, I enjoyed playing with the blurred, long exposure effects to help capture the time and motion of each moment.”
Rainy Day Recycling:
“I had been cooped up in my small apartment for a couple of weeks and decided to do some errands on this rainy morning. Streets were deserted except for a few people, and everything felt surreal. I came across this bundle of recycled cardboard and it looked like an abandoned monument on the street, with more color and life than everything around it.”
27th and Lex:
“This was taken the same day as the recycling photo. Same eerie quietness except some delivery trucks and a few cars. I had been playing around with manual settings on my iPhone and a gimbal that I sometimes use. I was able to stand in the middle of the street for a long time and capture dozens of shots. I’m happy with the painterly, impressionistic quality of this one.”
“Over the Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to get out of my usual routine and took a ferry over to Roosevelt Island. I’ve been inspired by Akihito Takuma recently and was curious if I could do my own photo version of his paintings. There’s an element of the ‘happy accident’ when using slow shutter settings, and this one just fell into place.”
“When I’m walking around New York, I’m looking for things that stand out to me. This tree had some unique bracing on it. Sometimes the city seems ugly and banal at first glance but has a vibrance that’s hard to convey, and the slow shutter settings help me to capture the spirit and time along with the object.”