Working It on Staple Street


I recently came across photographer Chris Zedano‘s Staple Street project on Feature Shoot and was enchanted: He spent two years shooting portraits on the little street that runs between Duane and Harrison. Zedano, who hails from Lima, Peru, has lived in New York City since 2002, and despite his affection for Tribeca, he lives in the Bronx. Since being featured on Feature Shoot, Zedano’s photographs have been accepted into a group exhibition at AFF Berlin Gallery, part of the European Month of Photography in Berlin in November. Sooner—and closer to home—his work will be in the NYC PhotoGroup Salon at Soho Photo on January 20 at 6:30 p.m. ($10 admission).

Why shoot in Tribeca? Why Staple Street?
Arriving here from South America years ago, I couldn’t help but be struck and seduced by the city’s landscape, especially a small, quiet, sliver in the heart of Tribeca called Staple Street, which I came across quite by chance one day on one of my meandering walks with my camera. There’s something about Staple Street that I can’t explain with words. Maybe it’s the narrowness of the street; or maybe it’s the arched bridge between the buildings; or maybe it’s the dilapidated sidewalk that always seems on the verge of repair but never quite makes it. And so a quest was born: I set out to connect with different characters and performers from all over the city by bringing them to this narrow and interesting space.


How did you find your subjects?
Through extensive research. I searched periodicals and magazines for ideas. I attended venues and followed my sitters to be able to network with different performers. Also, I talked to people on the street and asked them if they would be interested in being part of my project.


A lot of people think Tribeca has lost its edge in recent years (they call it Triburbia: Tribeca + suburbia). Were you aware of that when you chose Tribeca as a backdrop? Most of the people you shot aren’t often seen in the area around Duane Park….
I read that in the New York Sun a few years ago. I can see the demographics have changed but due to the great work of the Landmark Preservation Commission, the streets still have a grimy, industrial, and to me, romantic feel despite their proximity to the trendy, high-end real estate that has spread throughout lower Manhattan like an oil slick. The people I met and photographed have maintained a similar integrity, and thus for me, provided a similar romance. The subjects were vibrant, defiant, shy, sad, sly, witty, odd, exuberant, angry, giving—a perfect representation of the city itself, and of this tiny street that dates back to at least the early 19th century.


What did the people who live around there think?
I met some really cool and friendly people. I couldn’t have finished the project without their help. I’m thankful to the owners of Tama and to Cheryl Pelavin Fine Arts. They were really helpful in this project by providing with a place to change and rest in the breaks and also great chats. My experience with the neighbors was great. Sometimes they would be excited to see what performer or character I was working with.

What’s next?
I’m currently working on a project called intimateNYC, in which I portray different New Yorkers in their own homes—stripped of their clothes, their camouflage, their guarded gaze. It’s about connection: The camera acts as a bridge between the subject and the viewer.


Zedano (in blue) with the Hungry Marching Band



  1. Whoever this guy is … he makes you wanna ask the first Broad for an autograph, kick the victim of NYC rents and his suitcase down the street (and hope someone kicks him back), bang the rivet (you think she’s Rosy’s great granddaughter?), shoot suction cup darts at Bronze Arnold’s back (and hope they hurt), light a match off of Uncle Fester’s head (and inhale) and see if you have the eye-hand to connect electrodes to the Tatoo (maybe he flies outta Newark).

    I hate people who make me so happy.

    Rocco en Nueva Hersey (Rock On Photographer!)

  2. Muy interesante tu experiencia, Chris.
    Ahora ves los frutos de tu constancia. Te deseo suerte en la exposición.

  3. Thank you for featuring Chris’s project. He is an amazing photographer, which you can see even in his much tamer portraits (can be viewed on his website).
    Since I’m also an artist deeply interested in people in New York – though very different in style – I can relate to his obsession.