Much of my time in New York City was defined by the diversity, depth and range of food that I discovered. Tucked away behind the last row of shelves in a bodega was the best tacos in Manhattan. Below the brick and asphalt of Flushing was a subterranean food court of the richest Sichuan soupy noodle and dumplings. I remember these places for the surprising flavors and unique atmospheres that I stumbled upon. But what really defined these culinary explorations was the sense of discovery and mystery of what laid behind every door in the city.
This became the inspiration for 2nd Look–a six-part interactive documentary series about life outside the American mainstrem, where stereotypes seldom match reality. After much anticipation, Verse has published the first two films: Fight to Live, Live to Fight–a story about Bernie Cano, an amateur MMA fighter–and Studio in the Street–the legacy of two brothers and wedding photographers. Produced by Spēk Pictures, I had the opportunity to direct, shoot and edit these films in collaboration with Drew Jordan. In addition to these first two episodes, together we covered stories across New York City about a Dominatrix, a semi-pro Dominican baseball league, urban preppers, and circus sideshow.
One of my favorite stories, Studio in the Street, was just published. It was not the most logistically challenging. It was not the most controversial. Rather, it was just a beautiful story about the entrepreneurial spirit that defines New Yorkers. I happened upon this story on my way to Queens Borough Hall after being summoned to jury duty. I remember seeing plastic flower bouquets peaking out of the top of the bushes lining the plaza entrance. Next to it a giant sign reading "Wedding Photographer." Nobody was around and I was late to report. But on my way out I saw a well-dressed gentleman in slacks, a red button-down shirt, and black vest with his hair pulled back into a pony. I had to stop. We chatted at length about his wedding photography business. For 30 years, David Suriano and Salvador Suriano have taken photographs of the couples who arrived at city hall in wedding gowns and tuxedos to share their vows and spend their lives together. For 30 years, David and Salvador have "captured these memories forever."
Enjoy the first two episodes of 2nd Look on Verse. Read more about the client and project. More to come!
Episode 1: Fight to Live, Live to Fight
Episode 2: Studio in the Street