Richard Sandler made his name taking pictures of New York in the 80s. In the past decade, though, he says the streets have become less interesting, and he says cell phones are a major factor.
“People look boring when they’re on the phone,” he tells Business Insider. “If they’re smiling, it’s because they’re talking to somebody, and it doesn’t really relate to anything else.
“The cell phone limits your repertoire of being on the street. You’re on the street, but you’re on the phone, so your attention is minimally on the street and maximally on whoever you’re talking to. Back in the day, there were Walkmen, but cell phones are a different level of remove.”
“Occasionally, it works — I’ve made a few pictures where people are on cell phones — but most of the time it’s just boring.”
Sandler says the streets used to be full of life.
“The 60s, the 70s, the 80s were really cool because people hung out on the streets and the street was their backyard, the street was their living room,” he says. “I’d take the subway into the city with five rolls of film, get out on the street, and just shoot.”
Sandler has a new book out, “The Eyes of the City.” Here’s one he took of the line to get in Studio 54 back in 1981: