After graduating business school, up-and-coming French photographer Arnaud Montagard decided to give it all up to pursue the American dream: making a living from his passion. A proud New York resident since 2015, Arnaud is inspired by the bustling streets of his adopted city and its iconic street photographers, particularly Garry Winogrand and Saul Leiter. His latest project, "Slice of Light", emphasises the confluence of shadow and light - softly enveloping, boldly illuminating - in the Big Apple's labyrinth of streets and alleyways. Watch a typical day in Arnaud's life unfold, and get a closer look at the city that never sleeps. Bon voyage!
Hi, my name's Arnaud. I've been a freelance photographer for the last three years.
I've been interested in photography since I was a teenager, but I only started working as a freelance after I got my Master's from business school. I wasn't exactly passionate about my studies, but they did give me the opportunity to travel: I spent 6 months in China and almost two years in New York.
I started to get interested in street art when I was a student. I actually bought my first camera so that I could start photographing the murals I came across in the street. Gradually, I came to realise that I wanted to pursue photography full-time.
New York would be waking up around now, if only she had gone to sleep.
I first arrived in Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighbourhood about a year ago. I fell in love with the A/D/O café the first time I visited - not just because of its inspiring design, but because of the atmosphere of creative unity that seemed to pervade the place. Greenpoint is full of coworking spaces, most of which regularly organise meetups, exhibitions and open-mic nights featuring local artists. There's a real dialogue within the neighbourhood's creative community, which makes it an encouraging place to exchange ideas and opinions on every subject: politics, culture, photography...
I'm on my way to a client meeting.
Somehow, I never get tired of walking by the rows of New York brownstones that line the streets in this part of the city. You can find them all over Manhattan, of course, but the ones in the West Village are especially beautiful. They're as brightly-coloured as the day they were built. I guess it's something about the way they seem to resist the passage of time.
There's no such thing as a 'typical day' when you're a photographer. Each project and each client are different. That said, most of my work can be divided into two categories: 'commercial' photography and more artistic projects. The second kind tends to come about when I feel a more personal connection with the client's vision. As soon as I get out of this meeting, I'm going to take a few hours off and go for a walk around New York. Out of everything I do for work, street photography is my true passion.
The streets of New York are my playground.
The silhouettes of the buildings that surround me are shifting sands, slipping through my fingers like falling water. Always constant, yet never the same.
I've been known to spend hours - even days - walking these streets, searching for the right light and the perfect person. Sometimes, I stumble across a shadow that's just right, lying in wait for me, but with nobody to shoot. When that happens, I note down the place and time so that I can try to find my shot another day.
My series 'Slice of Light' encapsulates this fleeting process: Man is nothing when compared to the immensity of New York City.
Forget the metro - trust me, the bike is the photographer's best friend when it comes to getting around. You can observe the streets around you, watch places and people go by, with the fresh air that drifts in from the Atlantic Coast at your back.
Each time I cross the Williamsburg Bridge linking Brooklyn and Manhattan, I'm treated to the sight of dozens of murals that cover the walls of the city buildings -even the advertisements are hand-painted. As a longtime lover of street art, I'm on cloud nine every time I pass.
I'm heading back to Greenpoint. The neighbourhood isn't the easiest to reach by public transport, so I'm glad I have my bike!
Greenpoint has been home to a large Polish community for many years now. Lots of artists live here too, in former warehouses that have since been transformed into lofts and studios. There are also lots of little restaurants, family-run places, that help make the neighbourhood feel like home.
Located on the banks of the East River, Greenpoint offers incredible views of the Manhattan skyline. In the summer, things get even livelier. You can see the Brooklyn Barge as it sails down the river, playing live music from dusk till dawn.
This is where I'll leave you, just in front of the city lights - but I hope to see you soon in New York. Who knows, you might even see me taking the perfect picture at last!