Louis Faurer, a Philadelphia native born in 1916, made a name for himself as a photographer for top New York-based fashion magazines in the 1940s and 1950s.
[Above, a still from a silent film Faurer shot in the 1960s called Time Capsule]
Yet he was captivated by the ordinary tide of unbeautiful people that passed him regularly on city sidewalks, at bus stops, under theater marquees.
[“Women Waiting,” 1949]
Faurer turned his camera toward their faces—capturing raw, intimate portraits of the lonely, the haunted, the outcast, and the weird through the early 1970s.
Many of his images had a film noir feel, all shadows and silhouettes, highlighting the melancholy and chaos of urban life.
[Title and date unknown, above]
He particularly focused on people he found in Times Square, where he walked every day in the late 1940s and was attracted to “the hypnotic dusk light,” quoted Christoph Ribbat in Flickering Light: A History of Neon.
[“Horn & Hardart Junkies,” 1947]
In an era remembered for its conformity, Faurer sought out individual quirks and oddities. He captured dissonant, uncomfortable moments, but he never sought to exploit his subjects. His aim, as his photos reveal, was to show their humanity.
[Above, “Chelsea Hotel,” 1971]
“For the catalog of a 1981 solo exhibition of his work at the Art Gallery of the University of Maryland in College Park, he wrote, ‘My eyes search for people who are grateful for life, people who forgive and whose doubts have been removed, who understand the truth, whose enduring spirit is bathed by such piercing white light as to provide their present and future with hope.”’
Louis Faurer, above. More of his images can be found here at this University of Pennsylvania page.
Tags: 1950s street scenes NYC, Louis Faurer, old black and white photos of New Yorkers, Street photographers New York City, Street photography in New York City, Times Square photos 1950s, weird people of New York City