New York has been waiting for Fotografiska NYC to open to the public, and it finally did. The Fotografiska New York museum is specifically dedicated to photography. With a restaurant, cafe, shop, and many levels of exhibits, this is a photographer’s dream spot. More importantly, it’s open until midnight – you can go late. So, if you’re not feeling like spending time at a bar at night, Fotografiska is a nice spot to go relax. With memberships as low as $150/year, and with a ton of benefits, this is the best place for showcasing photography in the city, and there are lots of reasons why.
For the opening, Fotografiska NYC’s third floor has an interaction section called “Who Took Care of You?” and it explores the relationships of caregivers in various forms. Even cooler is how Fotografiska NYC made the entire experience interactive and Instagrammable. There are markers and areas where you can draw on the walls. In fact, you’re encouraged to do so. Lots of couples will have fun writing on the wall and then shooting selfies in front of their creations. Eventually, you begin to immerse yourself in “Other People’s Children” and I encourage you to take your time here. But all the vain behavior aside, Fotografiska NYC’s biggest strength is with its lighting design. I’d be appalled if the lighting designers for all of the floors weren’t paid handsomely.
Where many galleries and museums simply let the lighting on exhibit pieces spill out everywhere, Fotografiska NYC focuses its beams of light. This essentially puts each and every single piece of work in the spotlight. Combine this with the fact that the folks who printed the images chose great materials that minimize reflections and you’ll be absolutely captivated by the exhibits here. This comes into play a whole lot in specific parts of the exhibits. And you’ll really see the lighting shine when you get to a lot of the landscape work.
More importantly, the curators of Fotografiska NYC chose work that isn’t necessarily accessible to everyone. Not everyone can do it, and if they can, then no one else really has. This is one of the biggest complains about modern photography: everyone can do everything. While some folks may think photographs of certain trees can be easily done by anyone, you’d be amazed and you’d start second-guessing yourself. Some of this involves access, people work, careful studies, trial and error, etc. Couple this with the phenomenal print quality and you’ll realize Fotografiska NYC is really trying to encourage everyone to step up their photography game.
When it comes to the actual experience of Fotografiska NYC itself, it’s fantastic all around. Where Fotografiska NYC is failing though is with integrating the NY location into their mobile app, which I believe will be fixed in time. Additionally, their restaurant isn’t quite ready yet, or at least not when I visited.
Fotografiska NYC is taking the idea that photography is something only experienced digitally and on Instagram and slapping it in the face. It’s grabbing folks by the shoulders and telling them to wake up. Further, it’s doing this while bringing much-needed attention to many social factors. Where I think Fotografiska New York can take things even further is by teaching people more about the printing and the lighting process. Epson regularly passes around an article I wrote years ago about this. And it’s important.