William Meyers has an eye for the poetic moment. His black-and-white photographs of New York City streetscapes are unfolding visual anecdotes.
His first book, “Outer Boroughs: New York Beyond Manhattan” (Damiani), is the result of almost 20 years of wanderings. He’d often travel to a subway stop he hadn’t visited before and then explore.
The cover photograph was taken in Williamsburg in 1999, outside a popular club; the signs for the car service next door are seen in English on one entrance, and, around the sharp corner, in Yiddish on the other.
A Bukharian restaurant in Forest Hills.
An ode to sunny days, a photograph taken in Manhattan Beach shows a group of children on a bench, with the sea beyond them. To Meyers the small figures seem like notes on a staff of music. “If you only knew how to read music, you could whistle a tune they’re trying to convey,” he says.
Meyers, who writes about photography for the Wall Street Journal, managed to find a highway sign with the names of the four outer boroughs: “Brooklyn-Queens Expressway/Staten Island/ Bronx/1 mile.” Among the other images are IS a backstage scene in a Forest Hills restaurant featuring Bukharian musicians, and a shul basement in Midwood, Brooklyn, after then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a campaign stop.
The quote from Ecclesiastes that is the book’s epigraph, “The eye never has enough of seeing,” resonates deeply for the photographer. On the streets of New York, there’s always something there that wasn’t there previously.
An exhibition, “William Meyers: Outer Boroughs” is on view at The New York Public Library, Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, through June 30.