The city takes a while to wake up, and the first people you see at the break of day are the night-clubbers, street cleaners, and prostitutes,” Richard Renaldi told me recently. We were talking about his current project, “Manhattan Sunday,” a series of early-morning photographs that he has been shooting since 2010. Renaldi, a former night-clubber who has lived in New York since 1986, said that he wanted to capture the way the city feels after staying out all night. He photographed the empty streets just before sunrise, as the city came to life. “Sunday morning is a magical and inspiring time,” he said. “It’s a break in the chaotic swirl. People are quiet, reflective, coming down, and peacefully tired. They are in the same space as the city.” Renaldi began taking pictures of people as they left after-hours clubs—Pacha, District 36, Roseland—and the all-night karaoke bars on Thirty-second Street. “I wanted this to be a celebration of the characters I’ve seen, who get dressed up and put their freak on to go out on a Saturday night. So often this is hidden in the dark,” Renaldi said. “These photographs open that up and really show the creativity and attention that is put into how these clubbers are presenting themselves.”
Renaldi’s “Touching Strangers,” the culmination of a seven-year portrait project, opens this Thursday at Aperture Gallery. Starting on April 17th, “This Grand Show,” a selection of his American landscapes, will be on view at Bonni Benrubi Gallery.