Photo Essay: Somebody’s Watching You

I came across Lee Gillen‘s photography on Twitter, and loved it immediately. Gillen, who works in Tribeca as a software engineer specializing in software for creative groups, often captures people having private moments (including “Two ladies expression in Tribeca, New York,” above), something I don’t have the nerve to do. He agreed to answer a few questions and share some of the photos he has shot around here.

You seem to be especially drawn to people, at least in the city. What is it about people that appeals to you?
People, obviously, are very interesting. You see someone and you immediately think of their background and maybe where they are going. You see their expression, how they are dressed, and what they are doing. Some moments are very interesting and precious and it is the people who make it so. I like to think people are good and I try to capture that in my photos.

Do the people you shoot ever react badly? Some of them must notice.
I try my best not to be noticed, but it is unavoidable at times. I find a smile is the most disarming thing to do when someone feels put off. I don’t want people to feel negative about my pictures and I hope that is carried through. I’ve had a few people smile back while I am making a photo of them and I like to think they weren’t smiling at my camera.

The people often have strange expressions on their faces or look lonely or alienated (which is actually what I love about them). Do you intentionally look for that?
I try to find interesting moments to photograph. Sometimes I can easily see that someone has an expression or a feeling. Sometimes the people are walking so fast I don’t know what it is that is interesting, I just know that there is something. I try my best to make of it what I can.

"An old man at Tribeca, New York"

"A family in Tribeca, New York"

"Nude advertisement in Tribeca, New York"

"A man sitting in Grandaisy Bakery in Tribeca, New York"

"A lady smoking in Tribeca, New York"

"Mother and child in Tribeca, New York"

"Man holding a dog at Tribeca, New York"

"Cat in Tribeca, New York"

"Bent backs"

"Ladies in Tribeca, New York"


"Lost in Tribeca, New York"



  1. Beautiful entry. Thanks!

  2. Very brave! Love the positive energy in his answers! Thanks for the post!

  3. No offense but this is really nothing great. I’d say it’s a little too early for this photographer to be getting interviewed.

  4. As they say, art is in the eye of the beholder. I think these are fun and represent the people we see everyday. How do you say “no offense” and then go on to offend by saying his work is nothing great.

  5. This is great …. as a proud Tribeca resident and fan of Tribeca Citizen, love seeing the ‘hood and people in it.

    Photography is an art that not all of us can perform – many aspire but only a few attain !

    It is something I would just love to do and do well.

    John, would like to see the photographs you have taken someday

  6. I enjoyed seeing this work. And I would love to take the courage to capture some of these moments!

  7. Good interview, great pictures and even better if they were taken by a friend. Congratulations Lee!!