This brilliant urban photographer shows the hidden beauty of the toughest parts of city life

To Baltimore-based photographer Ben Marcin, cities are hyper-functional places, built to support the crowds of people that pour into them every day.

“The city is meant to be efficient,” he tells Tech Insider. “The shortest path from A to B, that’s what a footpath is. Parking garages — let’s stack these cars up 10 floors. But if you focus in on these structures in a certain way, they’re also unintentionally beautiful.”

In his photos, Marcin shoots skyscrapers, parking garages, and even pieces of discarded gum to reveal the patterns and textures that the rest of us miss.

In Marcin's 'Tower' series, he shot skyscrapers, leaving out their tops and bottom, and removed the sky behind them.

Ben Marcin
'2400 Chestnut Apartment Building - Philadelphia, PA'

These towers are 'architecturally beautiful,' he says, but also 'scary' in the way they're isolated from the rest of the world.

Ben Marcin
'1670 Broadway - Denver, CO'

'I want you to have the impression that there's a thousand people in this thing,' he says, 'and they're all ants in the hive.'

Ben Marcin
'Icon - Manhattan, NY'

Taking out the sky was a deliberate choice, as was the dead-center composition -- it makes for a very formal photo, he says.

Ben Marcin
'U.S. Postal Service Building - New Orleans, LA'

'The lines are straight, and you see an abstract collection of patterns and grids, basically,' he says. 'The honeycomb of windows, steel, and all that.'

Ben Marcin
'Atlantis - San Juan, PR'

The result, he says, is something like a Mark Rothko painting: abstract, meditative, and foreboding.

Ben Marcin
'PSFS Building - Philadelphia, PA'

The 'Urban Grids' series, featuring places like parking garages and warehouses, feels more hopeful than the isolated skyscrapers.

Ben Marcin
'Untitled (Twenty Office Buildings) 2010-2014'

'If you just document a parking garage straight, it's pretty boring,' Marcin says.

Ben Marcin
'Untitled (Twenty Parking Garages) 2010-2014'

'But they have these weird little designs where if you crop in on them in a certain way, you see something interesting,' he says.

Ben Marcin
'Untitled (Twenty Warehouses) 2012-2014'

They're beautiful -- unintentionally.

Ben Marcin
'Untitled (Twenty Patterns Found in Urban Settings) 2013-2014'

Marcin's 'Street Photography' series examines one of the most overlooked parts of urban life: the footpaths and streets we walk on every day.

Ben Marcin
'Twenty-Four Crosses'

Discarded gum might be disgusting, but if you arrange a bunch of those black splotches together, the patterns become compelling.

Ben Marcin
'Fifty-Six Pieces of Discarded Chewing Gum'

'People everywhere are looking at the ground but they're not really seeing it,' Marcin says, 'all the patterns and circles and squares.' That's where his photos come in -- showing the aesthetics hiding in the plain sight in the urban jungle.

Ben Marcin
'Ninety Sections of Street'

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