by Jen Jihyun Lee
Morning Walks is a series of photographic diptychs taken in the mornings in New York City; it includes my mornings at home and still moments before the city came alive.
Although I am not a morning person, I decided to take a walk every morning to clear my mind. I needed change in my life—graduation was near and the pandemic was still here. Everything seemed unsettling. From October to November, I forced myself to wake up early every morning. I started carrying my camera on my walks and captured ordinary, quiet, serene morning moments. It slowed my walks down even more. Through the project, I rediscovered New York City—not bustling, but a calm and silent city. I noticed empty streets, the golden rays of the rising sun, yet-to-be-collected garbage cans, and a crisp, fresh autumn breeze. It was strange not to see anyone on the streets, but at the same time, I was relieved. It felt like the city was mine in the quiet morning hours. My daily 30-minute morning walks became my favorite part of the day.
I was particularly intrigued by how morning sunlight hit the buildings. The warm lighting created unique shadows and made prosaic structures appear exquisite. Most photographs were taken with a 35mm film camera in black and white and color, except for a few taken with an iPhone.
Roaming around the city and connecting with my surroundings, I was able to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. Most importantly, I was able to find my pause. This project is a photographic diary of still morning moments—a connection between morning, myself, and the city.