Photographer Navid Baratay is now based in Seattle, Washington. But he’s the mastermind behind a series called “Intersections.” The series observes the way that cities look from way up in the sky. So to do this, Navid often takes to rooftops, reaches out and over the ledge, shoots, continues, etc.
Artistically speaking, what he comes away with is quite interesting.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.
Navid: My interest in photography began in a class in Junior High where we walked around the playground taking photos and then developed our photographs in the school darkroom. I went on to get my degree in electrical engineering and worked as an engineer for about three years before deciding to switch gears and pursue my artistic passion. In my three years of working as an engineer, I dreaded every day of work and always found myself shooting in my spare time. I felt so much happier and creative when I was behind the lens. I decided to get more serious with my work, started doing editorial assignments for publications and eventually made the leap to becoming a professional photographer.
– What made you get into doing urban geometry work like you do in the Intersections project? Where did the inspiration for doing projects like this come from?
Navid: The idea for my Intersection series first came to me after lunch one afternoon in 2009 in a Tokyo skyscraper. I looked down at the street below and noticed an amazing scene of geometric patterns dotted with umbrella-wielding pedestrians. I really couldn’t believe how geometric it all looked from above. It was almost as if someone designed the Tokyo street with my vantage point in mind.
I realized that all the perfectly parallel lines, precise angles and thoughtful proportions were really a reflection of Japanese culture and its meticulous attention to detail and artistic presentation.
When I moved to NYC in 2010, I wanted to continue this series and see what New York looked like from above. Everyone walks around Manhattan looking up at the city, but very few get to look down. When you watch NYC from above, you really get a sense of the energy and flow of the city–the constant stream of yellow taxis lining the avenues, the waves of pedestrians hurriedly crossing at the change of traffic signals, little figures disappearing into the subway stations, the chorus of honking horns and sirens. It’s all so rhythmic.
Phoblographer: What makes you choose a specific area to photograph and how do you usually go about doing this?
Navid: There’s been lots of wild speculation as to how I create these photos. Some people think I have a side job as a helicopter pilot or window washer. One website assumed I was walking around Manhattan with a camera attached to a kite. Some have even called me Spiderman. I actually just take all of these from building rooftops and lean over the edge. A lot of times I have to very securely wrap the camera strap around my arms and extend my arms way over the edge to get the overhead angle that I’m looking for. I’m never concerned for my own personal safety, but do have a huge fear of dropping my camera or a lens over the edge.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about the gear that you use.
Navid: I shoot with a Nikon D800 and 5 main lenses: Nikkor 14-24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 135mm, and 70-200mm.