Rear View Of New York
By Michael MaherMay 24, 2012
Australian photographer Bridget Fleming push-biked her way into New York's zeitgeist by snapping at its tail. Follow her cycle path in this cheeky video.
In the most photographed city in the world finding a new angle is quite a feat. But that's what Bridget Fleming has managed to pull off with her series Downtown From Behind.
Spokes Models, New York
After she posted the photographs online, a number of major media outlets, including The New York Times, published her novel images of artists, fashionistas and chefs riding their bikes on the city's streets. ''All of a sudden it went viral, globally,'' recounts 31-year-old Fleming.
''I got lucky. A bike was one of the first things I bought when I moved here from Sydney three years ago. If I wasn't riding between cafés and bars downtown maybe I wouldn't have had the idea!''
After she'd taken the first few photographs and printed them, Fleming says she knew she had something that might appeal to a large audience. ''It was original and people have appreciated that. Perhaps that's part of the reason, too, that there's been a following and some momentum with the project.''
One of the most memorable shoots shows chef Andrew Carmellini riding his bike with a suckling pig draped over his shoulder. "We had him riding up and down Prince Street in SoHo with lots of traffic and lots of trucks and lots of onlookers wondering 'Who is this crazy guy with the pig over his shoulder?'''
A favourite of Fleming's is Frank Alexander, one of New York's leading events designers, who was photographed cycling on 10th Street while precariously balancing a huge bouquet of flowers. "He was fantastic to work with, and I think we chose the heaviest bouquet for him to carry!'' recalls Fleming.
Bridget Fleming's work has placed her in the growing ranks of celebrated street photographers, though others have more often made their mark in the field of fashion. The doyen of this genre is Bill Cunningham of The New York Times, whose pictures of sartorial warriors parading the pavements of Manhattan have become the stuff of legend. For Fleming, having her Downtown From Behind images published in the same newspaper was the break she needed after she survived the Great Recession as a waitress: ''I was staying with a girlfriend the evening before the article was due to come out; we woke up and pretty much took everyone's New York Times in that apartment building. It still feels very surreal but there's no question that it [a little fame] helps when I approach high-profile people to collaborate.''
Fleming has already extended her project to Milan. Next stop? Back to Australia, where she plans to shoot cyclists on the streets of Sydney and Melboure — Australians, watch your backsides!
Additional camera work by Roger Hie.