All images by Fabian Palencia. Used with permission
“Growing up, I skateboarded with my friends, and we were always looking for new, undiscovered skate spots. Skateboarding really introduced me to NYC.” says Fabian Palencia when talking about how he became inspired to get into street photography in the first place. “By the time I was 10/11, I had been to every borough by train.” Fabian’s approach to street photography is very rooted in street skating and graffiti.
“I think about what kind of people live somewhere, what do they eat? How do they make a living, what’s their hustle? I grew up in Jackson Heights, which has a vibrant street culture. There was so much going on all around me, I wanted to explore it all. I still do. I want to understand.”
Fabian’s images are clever, candid, and capture moments that would otherwise have New Yorkers not thinking to take a photo. He touts around a 5D Mark II with a couple of prime lenses, an iPhone 5S and a Hasselblad 500CM. He uploads his images to his Tumblr, Instagram and Eyeem. Mr. Palencia states that he has an emphasis on travelling light–and so he’ll either just carry his iPhone or his camera and one lens. “Too much gear takes away from the experience, and my work is really about me experiencing the world around me.” says Fabian.
Mr. Palencia is drawn to characters that personify their environment. By that, he means that every neighborhood in New York has their own personalities and the area reflects on the people there. In order to shoot the images, Fabian practices the art of being invisible–or at least as best as possible. Then he gets close and tries to capture the scene. When asked further about the method, he explains that he isn’t into exploiting people, or their pain. He believes that there is enough of that out there, and in those same environments there is a lot of love. “I want to tell that story. A NY love story.”
Considering that most of his work is on platforms like Eyeem, Tumblr, and Instagram (though he is building a website) he believes that the social imaging world is very democratized in its current state of shooting, sharing, not using the best equipment, and not needing an art degree. “My education in the arts was passing blackbooks around to my friends, looking at graffiti, going to museums and looking at peoples work online.” states Fabian. “Without the internet, I’d have never become a working photographer. I’d still be shooting, no matter what, but knowing I’m part of a greater whole inspires me to push myself to make better photos.”
Here are more of his images.