Inwood at Night

If you haven’t been able to tell already, I’m really drawn to taking pictures of people more than any other subject. This probably stems from advice my father gave me many years ago, on the eve of a high school trip to Spain:

“If you’re going to take a picture of a building or a landmark, have one of your friends stand in front of it.”

His argument was that the photo would be a lot more interesting, instead of looking the same as every other tourist’s photo of the same place. For that reason, I’ve generally shied away from landscape or architecture photography. There are plenty of people who make really amazing-looking shots (just check out the Explore tab on Instagram), but it never really excited me as much as people photography.

Something I tell people is that you can have a dozen photographers standing around a flower or a building, snapping away, and for the most part (aside from post-processing), the photos will look the same. Have the same set of photographers standing around a person, however, and the photos may look drastically different. People, and especially faces, express a myriad of emotions (intentional or not) — especially when captured in a photograph.

When I first started doing photography professionally, one of my favorite creative outlets was night shooting. Unlike shooting landscapes or buildings during the day (which anyone with an iPhone can do), capturing the same thing at night is a completely different beast, and requires a really old-school camera setup. You need a tripod and a shutter release cord — as the camera’s shutter needs to stay open for several seconds at a time without being bumped — in order to let in enough available light to properly expose the shot. And because everything is at night (and the photos require some post-processing to look good), you really have no idea what you’re getting as you’re photographing things and have to wait until you get back home to your ‘digital darkroom’ to see how the shots turned out.

Because of all of the variables (lens, aperture, shutter speed), night photos can look really different. And much like portraits, the photographer’s mood can be conveyed by what they’re capturing or how they’ve processed the photos. I think this is really true for me — especially because being outside for long periods in the middle of the night allows lots of time for reflection.

It’s been almost two years since I last did any night shooting, and I was inspired to head out to the neighborhood here in Inwood to give things a try a few days ago. It was a clear night and unusually warm, so I made the most of it.

These photos and more are available for purchase here.

  • Adrianne Attanasio Hamilton

    These are beautiful! Great work!

  • Andrea Enright

    So cool! Love my neighborhood!

  • Kate Hunte

    Our neighborhood is SO gorgeous. Love these!

  • Scott Rochna


  • Karen Capucilli

    Your photographs of Inwood are lush and elevating. I am also working on an Inwood series. It’s amazing how two people can have such different visions. Enjoying your photos and writing!

    • BJ

      Thanks, Karen! I’d love to hear about what you’re working on with your Inwood series. Do you have any of the shots online?

  • Lizziekasszio Lopera-Murchison