Dominique James, Photographer

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Midnight in Manhattan

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Midnight in Manhattan

Midnight in Manhattan (Photographs by Dominique James)

Geographically speaking, the Empire State Building is not the center of New York City. That distinction belongs to a little-known pastoral patch of grass in the lower portion of Central Park called Sheep Meadow.

But the art deco-designed Empire State Building, a 103-story skyscraper occupying a considerable city block that intersects Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street, with a full height of 1,454 feet—once the tallest building in the world—might as well be, the center of New York City.

As far as anyone in Manhattan is concerned, the Empire State Building is unquestionably the heart of New York City.

For most New Yorkers (and visitors alike), the Empire State Building is the one true compass on which to navigate the city without a map. From street level, those who are a little lost and wanting to geo-locate might simply look up to see where the Empire State Building is; and then, from high up the Observation Deck, on a clear day, one can visually map out the sprawling lay of the land for thousands of miles, not just the boroughs but across other states.

Movies such as An Affair To Remember, Love Affair, and Sleepless in Seattle, among many others, have established the Empire State Building as a major cultural icon.

And above all else, the Empire State Building is an office building.

Of its many notable tenants, Filipinos might find one to be of particular interest. The Filipino Reporter, a weekly newspaper founded on July 2, 1999 by Filipino newsman Luigi Andrei Eusebio, catering primarily to the Filipino-American community in New York City (the only ethnic newspaper that holds the distinction of being a regular member of the New York Press Club), has its office at the Empire State Building.

A compass, a cultural icon, an office, the heart of the city—very few buildings can claim to be all that, and more.

Yes, there is indeed so much more, so let’s add one bit: the Empire State Building is a veritable magnet to photographers.

Countless shutterbugs have been to the top of the Empire State Building to take pictures of the spectacular 360-degree view. Because of the ubiquity of the pictures taken from its perch, even those who have never been up the building, or in NYC for that matter, can have some imagined sense of what it might feel like to be up there. (Although of course, as with anything else, nothing really comes close to the experience of actually being there to see and experience it for one’s self.)

The Observatory Deck of the Empire State Building is open to the public from 8 AM to 2 PM. In 2008 alone, over 110 million people went up to marvel at the grand view all around down below—many of them with camera, of course.

I was one of them.

According to NASA, Manhattan’s bright city lights at night, bounded by New Jersey, Brooklyn and Queens, is visible from outer space. It glows a collective, bright amber.

Because of this bit of curiosity, instead of the usual and far more common daytime images of Manhattan’s sprawl, I decided I wanted to go up there (again) after dark to take pictures of the city down below, bathed in millions and millions of electrical pinpoints collectively battling darkness with valor. Armed with a compact camera, up I went on a chilly spring evening, determined to snap at whatever there is to see of the city at night.

Of course, I wasn’t disappointed. From that clear evening, close to midnight, I was able to take many, many pictures all around, and from it, a set of black-and-white landscape photos that has more in kinship with abstract paintings than realistic photographs.

Lacking the many telling details visible in daylight, and with no colors, one can only glean hints of the familiar shapes of the buildings and of the streets silhouetted in countless glimmering, shimmering lights. You are keenly aware of the city’s palpable existence down below, even if most of it is shrouded in darkness.

The black-and-white, abstract-looking pictures, stark in minimal shades of gray, informed only by specific arrangements of lights to suggest forms and structures, with most everything hidden in shadows, turned out to be a fascinating representation of New York City at night—a seeming state of incompleteness. Naturally and quite automatically, viewers cannot help but imaginatively fill in and map out the blanks of familiar nooks and crannies. Even if the individual frames of pictures were to be stitched to form one grand panorama of Manhattan in the dark, it would still appear incomplete, and one would still strive to imagine the personal, familiar blanks.

But there is another interesting way of looking at the incompleteness of each picture from this black-and-white photo set—for me, and for many others who have lived and called New York City home for quite some time, the experience of the place is somehow encapsulated in each of those largely incomplete photos—in the low-lying buildings, in the bustling city streets, in the city corners, in the patches of parks, in the soaring skyscrapers, and in the pinpoints of light everywhere, which, while appearing to be expansive, is actually well-contained and constrained in each of the finite frames. If there’s anything true about New York, it is a city unto each and every one’s own.

Pulling back a little, if we are to impose some sort of organizational structure to this set of photographs, we can divide them into two subsets.

The first obvious subset will have to be the almost vain attempt at photo-realism, where every image is a stark, clear-eyed impression of the sprawling urban landscape from a bird’s eye view. These are pictures that, although they are, almost aren’t.

The second, and perhaps less obvious subset, would have to be the painterly depiction of the views. These pictures, consciously taken with longer than usual exposure times, even deliberately moving the handheld camera in certain patterns or directions of motion while the digital sensor is being exposed, produced artful blurs that are somewhat impressionistic.

But despite the distinctiveness of the photographic approaches, styles and techniques, all the images, individually and as a set (or a subset), aims to invoke yet another facet of what New York City is all about—or whatever it might be—to the hopeful transients and transplants attempting to dig in and latch on to its granite foundation, to the wandering, wide-eyed tourists gawking at everything with undisguised awe, wonder, and curiosity, and to the jaded New Yorkers themselves who long ago have been blinded to everything around them.

For me personally, during the almost 4 years that I lived in New York City, and from out of the countless photographs I’ve taken of everything I’ve seen there, this set of black-and-white nightscapes is nothing but an open embrace of the ravishing, glittering bejeweled city that I’ve fallen madly in love with, which to this very day, I happen to be still madly in love with.

So, New York City, I love you … still.

Come and take a look at my set of “Midnight in Manhattan” black-and-white photographs at

Also, if you haven’t already, please sign up (and do invite others to sign up as well) to my brief monthly photography email newsletter at Thanks!

[Note: All photos from the official photography website are now directly available for download and print order for personal, editorial, and commercial use. Thanks!]


Here is New York

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New York City

Though Pulitzer Prize-winning writer E.B. White described three different “trembling” cities, the city of New York is really many, many things to many people. Depending on circumstance, experience, and perception, we each picture it to be this or that way. It’s remarkable therefore that photographs of New York, even of the very same places, come out different from one another.

This one picture, for instance, depicting the iconic Empire State Building taken from the vantage point of the equally iconic Brooklyn Bridge, which I took in the autumn of 2009, shows a perfectly sunny and bright day; yet somehow, exudes a quiet and melancholy mood. Looking at this picture, it’s almost possible to imagine hearing the muted sounds of people going about their business in the buildings, as cars and buses crisscross the traffic grids on street level with people pounding its pavements, and add to that, the rumbling of subway cars snaking underneath.

Straight out of the Nikon D2Xs camera, the original RAW image file of this image stands on its own. But with simple adjustments in Apple’s Aperture with the Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in from Google’s Nik Collection, I managed to coax out subtle details, and in the process, seemingly created a far more meaningful and engaging image. I doubt if this will look exactly the same next time I picture the same view. I am almost certain it will come out differently.

With every photograph of New York City, this and all the countless others, then and now, and in the future, I am reminded of a passage from E.B. White’s pristine essay, “Here is New York,” which he wrote in the sweltering summer of 1948:

There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter—the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these three trembling cities the greatest is the last—the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high-strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion. And whether it is a farmer arriving from Italy to set up a small grocery store in a slum, or a young girl arriving from a small town in Mississippi to escape the indignity of being observed by her neighbors, or a boy arriving from the Corn Belt with a manuscript in his suitcase and a pain in his heart, it makes no difference: each embrace New York with the intense excitement of first love, each absorbs New York with the fresh eyes of an adventurer, each generates heat and light to dwarf the Consolidated Edison Company.

Ahh, New York, what a wonderful, maddening city you are!

Free Download: The Statue Of Liberty

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The Statue Of Liberty

The Statue Of Liberty


The Statue of Liberty is a universal symbol of freedom. It is a beacon of hope to countless people from all over the world—including myself. When I moved to New York three years ago, it was one of the first things I wanted to see. But as I went about my new life, I would only be afforded, from time to time, a very distant glimpse of her. It wasn’t until recently that I finally got the chance to see her up close. She is every bit as magnificent and as inspiring as I thought her to be.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about Lady Liberty:

“The Statue of Liberty (French: Statue de la Liberté), officially titled Liberty Enlightening the World (French: la Liberté éclairant le monde), dedicated on October 28, 1886, is a monument commemorating the centennial of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence, given to the United States by the people of France to represent the friendship between the two countries established during the American Revolution. It represents a woman wearing a stola, a radiant crown and sandals, trampling a broken chain, carrying a torch in her raised right hand and a tabula ansata, where the date of the Declaration of Independence JULY IV MDCCLXXVI is inscribed, in her left arm. Standing on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, it welcomes visitors, immigrants, and returning Americans traveling by ship. Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi sculpted the statue and obtained a U.S. patent for its structure. Maurice Koechlin—chief engineer of Gustave Eiffel’s engineering company and designer of the Eiffel Tower—engineered the internal structure. The pedestal was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt. Eugène Viollet-le-Duc was responsible for the choice of copper in the statue’s construction, and for the adoption of the repoussé technique, where a malleable metal is hammered on the reverse side. The statue is made of a sheathing of pure copper, hung on a framework of steel (originally puddled iron) with the exception of the flame of the torch, which is coated in gold leaf (originally made of copper and later altered to hold glass panes). It stands atop a rectangular stonework pedestal with a foundation in the shape of an irregular eleven-pointed star. The statue is 151 ft (46 m) tall, but with the pedestal and foundation, it is 305 ft (93 m) tall. The Statue of Liberty is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world, and of the United States. For many years it was one of the first glimpses of the United States for millions of immigrants and visitors after ocean voyages from around the world.”

On my visit to Liberty Island, I took many pictures of Lady Liberty. I didn’t really know what to do with all the pictures I shot, until I thought it makes perfect sense to just give one away for free.

So, as a way of saying thank you to the readers and followers of this blog, I’m giving away a free high-quality, high-resolution, full-color image of the Statue of Liberty. This is the first time that I am giving away a professionally-created photograph. You can download this high quality, un-watermarked picture in full 7. 57 MB JPEG image file right now from my Flickr gallery. Just click here and download the largest file size available. You can do whatever you want to do with this photo. I impose no restriction whatsoever. As they say, you can get it with “no strings attached.” You can use this picture for whatever purpose—personal, educational, and even commercial. It’s nice if you can credit me as the photographer, and if you can provide a link, but that’s something I’m not requiring you to do. This is the first of many more free images I’m planning to give away. To find out when I’ll be giving the next free photo image, follow me on Facebook or Twitter. And, if you want to check out what other kind of free images I might be giving away, visit my fine art photo print collection over at Zatista.

Thanks, and do tell all your friends to come over and download this professional quality Statue of Liberty photo image file for free!

New York, New York

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New York, New York 03


[Monday, January 4, 2009  | Thanks to Zatista for featuring me as their first Artist Of The Day for 2010!]

This exquisitely crafted original fine art photographic artist print, showing a grand view of Manhattan from Liberty Island, is from my exclusive 15-image New York Platinum Collection. The photographs in this set have been digitally toned using a special and unique artistic Platinum post-production process. Each is printed on a thick archival fiber-based paper. All of these valuable limited-edition artist prints which are available for the first time are signed and numbered, and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. To purchase this and other fine art photographic prints, please visit Zatista.

At last, now available at Getty and Zatista

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Photographed by Dominique James. Copyright © 2009. All rights reserved.


Armed with an array of some of the latest and the greatest ever-evolving digital tools I can lay my hands on, I’ve been posting my photographs on the Internet since the digital revolution got on its earnest way. I must admit that there’s a certain kind of thrill in showing off all sorts of pictures online to the point that sharing photos can quickly calcify into a habit, one that I can see myself happily doing for a very long time to come—something that someone who may be so inclined to look will be happy about.

Through the years, the world has seen a proliferation of amazing online photo-sharing platforms, some of which I’ve had the opportunity to use in showing my pictures. I’ve tried many thus far and I’m most certainly game to the idea of trying out whatever new ones come along. As a matter of fact, I think it is always a good thing to keep finding out new ways of sharing photos online. Whenever something good comes along, I’d most likely be one of the first to give it a shot. This allows me not only to discover different styles of showing pictures online, but also to find out more interesting ways to engage my viewers. While there have been a lot of photo sharing trials and experiments that did not work out for me and for my audience, there are a few that, to this day, I’m still using. The most enduring ongoing web-based photo sharing site that I’m still using to this day is something that I’ve started more than 10 years ago. And the newest is something that I started just months ago.

Most professional photographers like myself, which is probably also true for the countless amateur photographers, would most likely prefer to just have a single place online to put up all the pictures all the time. The goal would have to be a single, magnificent online presence. That would be really tidy. It would simplify a lot of things. And it would be the ideal. But nowadays, a single online presence just seems impossible, and impractical. From day to day, photographer or not, pro or not, we now all make all sorts of pictures that we want to throw up and out there that just wouldn’t fit into a single online presence.

There’s our family snapshots, party pictures of friends, photos of commercial work, and fine art photographs. Each one of these is different from the other, intended for very targeted audiences and for very specific purposes. If I try to bunch everything up in a single place online, hoping to appeal to a very broad everybody, I’d sooner than later turn off every single one. The best approach is to apply the old slice-and-dice trick and then pray hard to keep things neatly organized. Put one type of photos here, another type over there, and another one over there, and then, keep the distinction clean and clear. Things have a way of getting messy as the days, weeks, months and years roll on. Images have a way of crossing over into places where they shouldn’t be, and we have to be forever vigilant to keep things in place year after year. It’s a little difficult at first, but once you get the rules right, and the habit going, it gets easier.

Since I’ve been sharing photos on the Internet for a very long time now and for so many different intended reasons, I’ve happily somewhat become at least more consistent in socking photos in all the right online niches. I’ve managed to cobble together some sort of systematic way when it comes to uploading everything in a fairly organized manner. So far, so good. But as I survey the online landscape of my handiwork, I discovered a gaping void—one thing I’ve never really addressed throughout the years of photo sharing—and that is, to offer easy access to anyone online to get to my photographs. For the longest time, I was happy enough to just show everyone who’d care to look at what I’ve been doing. But, through the years, I’ve been asked quite a few times how anyone can actually buy my pictures. I’ve thought about this for some time, and I think I was able to work out a solution.

Beginning just a few months ago, since I decided to make it easy for anyone to get my pictures. I did two things—first, to make my pictures available as downloadable stock photos, and second, to make the pictures also available as a fine art photo print.

In making the photos available as downloadable high-res image files basically for commercial, editorial and other uses, the first step I took was to survey the myriad of online stock photography agencies and choose which one to latch on to. Luckily, at about that time, I received an offer to sign up with Getty Images. So now, if you have a need for commercially available thematic stock photographs for your advertising campaigns or for editorial use (and even for personal use), you can now easily get and download my stock photographs via Getty Images.

After that was all set, I went to work on the second step, which is to find a site that will facilitate the easy availability to my limited-edition, signed and numbered fine art photographic prints. There are many out there that offers all sorts of solutions that will allow me to do this. And in looking both far and near for one that fits my needs, I’ve decided to go with Zatista. Once I’ve signed up and was confirmed, I initially opened a secure Zatista storefront with a few recent black-and-white photographs. A few days later, I decided to quickly add color photographs as well. These pictures are from my New York City photo series. And, more will be added soon.

How has it been so far? Looks like I’m all set with both Getty and Zatista. The feedback I’ve received, and the sales I’ve made, have been tremendously encouraging. I’m happy that I am connecting with more and more people who are finding me and my photographs online through Getty and Zatista.

So, if you are looking for readily-available and downloadable high-resolution digital image files for commercial, advertising and editorial use, look me up at Getty. And if you want to hang original contemporary photographic art in your homes and offices, check out my offerings at Zatista. (Hey, you can even send someone my photographs as a gift!) And, of course, I still accept commissioned assignments.

A photographic portrait of a painter as an artist

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A photographic portrait of Filipino artist Katrina Bello.

A photographic portrait of Filipino artist Katrina Bello.


Her name is Katrina Bello. She is a painter. I met her fall last year in New York. She was introduced to me as “Kim” by the couple Butch and Beng Dalisay, who at that time were vacationing in the East Coast. The first time I met Kim, we had lunch at the cafeteria of Conde Nast’s headquarters in midtown Manhattan. It was quite memorable because though I couldn’t exactly remember what I ate, I was taken in by the fascinating setting—the cafeteria was designed by the well-known architect, Frank Ghery. Since that first meeting, I must have gone out with Kim countless times, and I always tease her that Frank Ghery doesn’t know what a straight line means. We’ve become friends, Kim and I. Kim is crazy about art. And I’m crazy about her—as a friend. Whenever we meet up, we’re always manage to find ourselves surrounded with art—at a museum, a gallery or anywhere else. So far, we have been to the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and countless galleries and art shops around Chelsea, Brooklyn, and Queens. Since I’ve met Kim, and since I moved to New York, I’ve seen more art—paintings, sculptures, installations, performance, and yes, photography, than I’ve ever seen before. I usually end up getting a headache after each of our visual and experiential art trips. And, I always complain to her that I never understand 99.9 percent of the art I’ve just seen. She just laughs at me. One thing though that I learned to appreciate from her is cheese. We sat down over a selection of fine cheese that she ordered from the cafeteria of the MoMA, and she went on to educate my palette—coaching me to describe the taste of each of each of the cheese we nibbled on endlessly along with some biblical fruits. If it’s anything about food, I’m attentive. One time, I told Kim that I wanted to photograph her. So when we went to P.S. 1 MoMA, I brought with me my Nikon D2Xs and a couple of lenses, and as we walked in and out and around this fascinating art space, I was also somewhat “creating” my own art—taking pictures of Kim. I’ve shot a little over 600 images of Kim that day in the span of about 2 hours, and the moment I got home, I loaded it all into Aperture 2.1 on my 15-inch unibody MacBook Pro. So far, I’ve shown Kim only a couple or so of the shots from that afternoon session. The one picture you see here, which was recently used in a full-spread feature about her in GP Magazine, is one of those shots. It was taken at an “art building” across the street of P.S. 1 MoMA. I’ve yet to show Kim all the other shots I’ve done of her that day. Usually, I would randomly email her one or two from the entire set whenever the mood strikes me. I have quite a number of interesting photos of her, and I’m keeping these pictures to myself for now, thinking I’d surprise her when the right time comes along. I sometimes wonder though if she’s at all interested in seeing all the pictures I took of her. She never really asked me about those “other” pictures which she has yet to see. She is unusual in that way, among many other ways, because almost everyone I’ve taken pictures of are actually impatient (and even a tad demanding) when it comes to taking a look at their photos. But no, not Kim. We never even talk at all about her pictures when we’re together, on the phone or on email. It’s just there, those photos. [Note: For inquiries and for information on professional photography assignments for editorial and/or advertising purposes, as well as post-production digital image editing and enhancement, please send email to Dominique James at or call 912-246-1131. Thank you.]

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