Two weeks before my birthday on May 12th, I arrived in JFK. In 2010, I moved from Germany to Paris, and it was also on May 12th, which was a mysterios coincidence.
After a long flight, I took a cab and went straight to East Harlem, where I was staying for the next three weeks. I quickly took a shower, left my bags at home, and went for a walk. I couldn't wait to explore and start discovering the city, but my perception was impacted by the jet lag that I was experiencing for the first time in my life.
In a way, I already knew this city pretty well from all the movies, TV shows, advertisements, books, and music videos that I had seen. Images of American culture, the American dream, and the American way of life were already pre-programmed and pre-installed in my mind.
NYC, like Berlin, Paris, and Moscow, made a huge impression on me. But this time, it was different. It took me a while to realize what it was. It's all about NYC's energy that makes it so special and unique. It's raw and wild energy that is storming and raging from everywhere around you. In some way, you might feel that electricity passes through your body and your mind. Buildings, cars, and people are in a constant vibration and in hysterical dancing.
With time, you get addicted to this constant rush of adrenaline. You would walk the streets and see great buildings, fantastic architecture, and next to them, terrible houses, streets full of trash, homeless people lying in the streets. There's craziness everywhere. You don't walk; you start to run, keeping up with the tempo.
I walked for hours non-stop, observing and absorbing this energy. At some point, it was too much, and you would feel your brain about to explode.
And I needed this explosion to happen in my life. After five years in Paris, I got stuck and framed into my own style. I became predictable for clients and for myself as well.
I was desperately looking to restart and reinvent myself and my photography. I needed new challenges, and NYC is the right place to be to challenge yourself to the extreme.
At first, I didn't have a plan to move and live in NYC. My initial plan was to stay for six weeks and see how things would go. Without any pressure and no expectations. But something was telling me that I was staying.