Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Street Photography (Graffiti in New York City)

26 October 2015


1. From the High Line, New York City, Street Art and Graffiti; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

1. Graffiti next to the High Line, New York City; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

2. Graffiti, Meat Packing District, New York City Street Art and Graffiti; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

2. Graffiti in Meat Packing District, New York City; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Let me know which you prefer and why. Click onto each image to enlarge.


I am slow to re-enter my home life after a four-day trip to one of my favorite places to visit, especially family and friends. Truly, it was days and nights filled with the exceptional. New York is  a city that offers the most sophisticated of our visual culture, and that’s just a beginning of its gems.

In the Lens section are two examples of how the city embraces your presence and gives you much to ponder. At times it seems to boast, but it’s just its way. It means to be bold and seductive and tranquilizing and tantalizing, and provoke you all at once. In its intensity it energizes and frazzles you.

You are helpless to ignore its kaleidoscopic panorama of the imaginable and unimaginable. I’ve been on retreat or vacationing there my entire life, and I will never ever see all that I want to experience. New York is complicated and the quintessential “I’ve got it all” urban center.

Graffiti is one of America’s home-grown art forms, which was born on the streets of New York. That legacy has never dissipated and continues stronger than ever today. It gives public spaces a sense that the people’s voices are present, and being heard through a vibrant language called visual art.

The city is a sanctuary that reveals its creative legacy over time. While NYC has imprinted itself upon the world, it also imprints itself upon each of its visitors and definitely on its residents. It’s a symbol of the yin/yang of the human condition, it’s beauty and its possibilities as well as abilities to create havoc on ourselves and others.

On my last day there as I strolled toward Washington Square, a protest against police terror in the city and organized by RiseUp was to occur in a few hours. And in the distance the Freedom Tower was standing with graceful dignity, gleaming majesty and its symbolism of human nature.

Tip of the Week:

Graffiti—street art—has mostly been considered a form of “outsider” art, which is more often found in an urban area. But it can be seen wherever a wall or surface has enough space for the artist to complete the mission. Graffiti has a long history, but today’s proliferation hails from the 1970s and 80s. Young New York kids delivered passionate messages that covered boxcars and exterior walls. The explosion of graffiti in New York City quickly spread  throughout the world, becoming a provocative and thought-provoking public art. PBS NewsHour produced an online video that captures the back story of this art form. To view “The History of American Graffiti From Subway Car to Gallery” by Saskia De Melker (first shown 31 March 2011; 7.23 minutes) click here. It’s worth watching.

View other entries from this week’s challenge:


As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog. My photographs for the mobile photography challenge are taken with an iPhone 6.

If you’d like to join this Mobile Photography Challenge, please click here for details and history of the challenge. If you have any questions, please contact me. Below is a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming challenges:

1st Monday: Nature.

2nd Monday: Macro.

3rd Monday: Black and White.

4th Monday Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Animals, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Objects, Panorama, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).

5th Monday: Editing and Processing with Various Apps Using Themes from the Fourth Week.

This entry was posted in Black-and-White Photography, Design, Human Nature, Macro Photography, Photography, Street Photography, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Street Photography (Graffiti in New York City)

  1. elisa ruland says:

    The Einstein image is painted on the brick wall of a quirky hotel in Carmel, California. You did a much better job then I did capturing the charm of the message. 🙂

  2. Andrew Seal says:

    Love the graffiti image. It’s so full of colour and life; so many stories, and how intriguing to see the Union Jack on its side. Great shot 🙂

  3. I’ve visited NY twice in the past few years and my favorite shots are of little moments instead of trying to capture the panorama and vistas of such a big city. Your street photos are a perfect way to share what it feels like to stand on the sidewalks surrounded by art and energy.

    • Lisa, I adore the way that you responded to my photograph. Your description of how you like to record your experiences in an urban setting is how how I feel too. Intimate moments of the vibrancy or mundane aspects of daily life gives a sense of a city’s character. Thanks so much.

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  5. Maria F. says:

    I like both; but the one in B&W is intriguing with those two figures on the right of the frame, giving a good sense of scale.

  6. LavendarLadi says:

    I love the timing of your post. We’re pondering a destination for our anniversary next year and New York is on the list!
    As much as I like the first photo, the second seems to speak more about the history of the street. I like it’s colour and roughness.

  7. It is interesting to read about the history and evolution of Graffiti. The transmission of the public and sometimes political message has been elevated by Banksy and others to an unanticipated and complete art form and heights of popularity worldwide. Great post, Sally!

    • Amanda, yes, there certainly are artists that stand in the “limelight,” who have made great strides and become less outsider artists and more accepted. I appreciate your response to my post.

  8. I like both of them, lol.

    Street art is so nonconformist in its expression. I’m always fascinated by the different concepts. They make you think.

  9. Nato says:

    I have never been to NY (other than the area around Niagara Falls on a high school trip forever ago). This makes me want to go!

  10. DG MARYOGA says:

    I find the second one more representative for the graffiti concept although the first one makes a beautiful,classic mural with a message that speakes volumes!Happy Tuesday,dear Sally 🙂

  11. You are making me home sick. I have to say I like them both the same (sorry). The first because I am in love with Einstein and with the message he is carrying on that sign. The second because it is (stealing a term from fellow blogger Lexi Klein) a riot of color.

  12. FireBonnet says:

    Love the second one! What can I say, the texture and patchwork quality excite me. Very nice work Sally. I think I would have liked it even in monotone… the color is wonderful but it’s the business that I enjoy. I’m glad you had such a great trip.

  13. Good street art is such a treasure, love the first with the Einstein image.

  14. Suzanne says:

    These are. great. Such a creative addition to the city.

  15. There are some amazing graffiti artists around. I can’t pick a favourite as they are both great shots

  16. Lucky you! I wish I had a fall trip to NYC this year. I’m sure you got a lot of good photos.

  17. Angeline M says:

    Street art is sublime. Always so rich and interesting. I have to vote for the second photo. The colors, textures, and composition of it all is such a visual treat…and its message intrigues me…that’s an insulin bottle! What does that say about the artist? Very intriguing to the nurse in me 🙂
    I’ll be back with my photo in a little while. Have a happy week.

    • Angeline, street art compels me, and in NYC it is a treasure trove of possibilities. Your comment about the content of the second one enlightens those of us who would not know. That’s why graffiti is so engaging and intriguing. At once there are many interpretations. Still, we are not privy to the artist’s intent. Thanks.

  18. Ulli says:

    I love them both! They are too different, to say, this is better, than the other.

  19. Love the idea of graffiti as a home grown art form! NYC is the capital of it too. Both images stand alone as excellent examples of photographing graffiti.
    I heave been afraid of going to New York City because I would be overwhelmed by it. SF is more then I can handle, thanks for your giving me a lens and pen tour.
    Happy Monday

  20. Allan G. Smorra says:

    As much as I like B&W, I am fascinated with the texture and colors of your second photo. I have never been to NYC, but it is a definite destination at some point in this life.

    • Allan, that second image was so rich in its content and (as you said) colors and textures. Layers upon layers kept me attentive. I do hope that you visit the East Coast. New York and San Francisco are my favorite places to be. They have different appeal and sensibilities. I’m totally enamored with them.

  21. I’m with Linda. I like them both for different reasons but also because they’re both cool! Glad you had such a great time in the city. I know how difficult it can be to get back into “real” life after a great trip, but I know you’ll enjoy the latter as well. Autumn is glorious here right now and I’m sure there as well.

    Have a wonderful week!


  22. Hi, Sally, I like the first one for its message and the second one for its colors! Happy Monday! 🙂

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