With an interview by Pauline Vermare
New York Waterfront Diary, by the French-American photographer Sophie Fenwick, is a unique and richly evocative portrait of New York City’s changing waterfront. Its nearly two hundred images in an array of formats—gelatin silver prints, color slides, stills from Super 8 films, and digital snapshots—are drawn from an archive of work Fenwick has created over several decades.
The photographs capture scenes of abandonment and decay, as well as the waterfront’s enduring vitality, in locations such as Coney Island and Red Hook, Brooklyn. They also reflect a personal journey, with some of the images appearing alongside poetry Fenwick wrote during the early days of the pandemic. The book includes an illuminating conversation between Fenwick and the photography curator, historian, and writer Pauline Vermare and features a striking scrapbook-like design by Lev Zeitlin of Red Square Design. In documenting an essential part of the life of the city, New York Waterfront Diary summons both memory and imagination, becoming a meditation on time and distance.
Sophie Fenwick is a French-American photographer born in New York in 1969. She studied photography at Parsons in Paris and at the International Center of Photography in New York. She began documenting the New York waterfront when she worked for Magnum in the early 1990s. Her first solo exhibition—Entrepôts d’Eaux (Homage to the Port of New York) held at Victoire Schlumberger in Paris—also explored this theme. In New York she has held exhibitions at Philippe Briet gallery, Threadwaxing Space, Seamen’s Church Institute, Museum of the City of New York, and Brooklyn Public Library. Alongside her career as a photographer, Sophie has also worked as a film curator, founding the Ciné Club at the Guillaume Gallozzi Gallery (NYC) and curating the program of the Anthology Film Archives and Ocularis (NYC). She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the director Julius Ziz. They have two daughters, Sia and Lara. This is her first book.
Pauline Vermare is a curator and a historian of photography. She was the cultural director of Magnum Photos, New York, and a curator at the International Center of Photography and at MoMA. From 2002 to 2009 she worked for the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris. She is the author of many interviews and essays on photography. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Saul Leiter Foundation and of the Catherine Leroy Fund.