Phil Penman has an idea about New York.

Bird on Fifth Avenue, New York City. Photograph by Phil Penman

“It’s living and breathing,” he says. “Millions of lives dizzyingly moving around us as we go about our daily routines… But in a city like this, it’s all too easy to miss it if you don’t stop and look around once in a while.”

Phil Penman 'Street: Photographs'
Midtown Manhattan during a foggy day, New York City. Photograph by Phil Penman

For nearly two decades, the British-born photographer has been doing just that, stalking the streets of the city with his Leica camera, capturing celebrities including Michael Jackson and Britney Spears, as well as New York’s ordinary people. And it’s the unrelenting energy, constant change, and sheer unpredictability of the Big Apple that makes his pictures so extraordinary.

Broadway in midtown in Manhattan, New York City. Photograph by Phil Penman

Now his unique vision can be seen in a new book and show, Street, capturing the people and cityscapes of New York in moments of serendipitous beauty and sudden clarity. As influential art and design outlet My Modern Met describes it: “From astronauts on the crosswalk to young skaters shredding on high rooftops, to 30-foot-tall statues lying sideways on the back of a truck, Penman’s subjects prove there’s never a dull moment in the Big Apple.”

If the photographs themselves are stunning – by turn surprising, moving, funny, and even shocking – the show’s real star is New York itself. Penman’s love of his adoptive home shines through on every page.

Taxi on fire in New York City. Photograph by Phil Penman

“They say, ‘Life moves pretty fast,’ he says. “I’ve found this to be true in the 18 years I’ve trawled the streets of New York City as a photographer. If I was to say what I hope to achieve with my street photography, it would be to keep documenting the ever-changing streets of New York City in all its rat-infested, garbage-mounted glory.”

Snowstorm on Madison Avenue, New York. Photograph by Phil Penman

STREET By Phil Penman, at Harrods, presented by Leica through November 24.Street: Photographs by Phil Penman © 2019, published by G ARTS

Street: Photographs by Phil Penman © 2019, published by G ARTS