One glance at photographer Robbie Quinn’s work is like looking into the soul and style of New York City. Everyone he photographs from rockstars to fashionable pedestrians he happens to meet on the street embodies the bold, diverse nature of the City. With an eye to capture a unique and inclusive style, Quinn’s work breaks down barriers against ageism, racism, homophobia, and all other discriminations. It is these bold and unique subjects that make up his latest project, a book aptly titled Street Unicorns according to Quinn, the “book is a love letter to those who aren’t afraid to stand out, embrace nonconformity, and share who they are with the world.” Quinn’s passion for memorializing the inhabitants of New York makes him the ideal guide through a day in the city.
I usually wake up begrudgingly at this time. My preference would be to sleep till 4 pm. My body has never adjusted from the many years when I performed in a rock band at venues such as CBGB’s and went to bed when the sun came up. And because I don’t want to get out of bed right away, I stay there and post on social what I’ve prepared from last night and generally check in, see if there are any important emails, look at the weather and decide the outfit I’m going with for the day.
I’ve now managed to get myself on the yoga mat with various hand weights and stretching bands and try to get my body to come alive even though I’m still a bit out of it.
Breakfast has always been my favorite. I’m one of those people that could have it for every meal. I’ll have it out occasionally if I have an early meeting, but I prefer to make it myself. Eggs over medium or poached and for my toast, I get my rye bread from Zabar’s on the Upper West Side, fresh orange juice, and a banana along with a plethora of vitamins and pills. Lately, oatmeal has been on the menu, but I do it up with chopped walnuts, cinnamon, a little maple syrup, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. A mainstay of any breakfast though is coffee. Having lived in South Florida for a number of years I’ve gotten used to iced coffee. Whenever I can get to Kobrick Coffee in the Meatpacking District, I pick up a pound of Dark Velvet and make it with my French press, refrigerate it overnight and pour it over ice into a mason jar, black.
Shower time, followed by hair dryer time and at least five products to get my hair to look just right, or at least almost right. Once I’m out of the apartment, I only take the subway if where I’m going is far and I need to get there fast. I prefer to stay above ground where the internet is still available in case I need to respond to any new emails or texts. If I’m not walking or on a CitiBike, I might be on a bus. Buses are very underrated and you can even charge your phone in some of the newer ones. If I’m in a car, it’s always a taxi, never a Lyft or Uber. Surprisingly, the taxis are a lot cheaper these days and the drivers know the city better than Waze. And I like using the Curb or Arro app to pay for my taxi so I can just hop out when I get there.
10:00 am -2:00 pm
First photo session of the day. Almost all my work comes from word of mouth and is usually for business and corporate folks. Realtors, authors, lawyers, politicians, stock brokers, entrepreneurs, the list is almost endless. Everyone needs great visual branding and I’ve created a method of making portraits. Through the process, each photo shows both a person’s likable, approachable side as well as their confident and competent side. Occasionally, I’ll do workshops coaching other photographers on how to do the same.
I have lunch out and strategically finish my photo sessions near any number of my favorite places. On the Upper East Side, I love Avra, but I was recently given a tour of the premier restaurant Casa Cruz and I’m looking forward to eating there. In the West Village, I like Petite Boucherie or Buvette, but my home away from home is in SoHo at Sant Ambroeus on Lafayette. I can’t say enough about my love for that place and the people that run it.
3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
This is my street photography time. It’s purely my time. I love being a flaneur. I walk the city aimlessly photographing anything that catches my eye: bicycles, buildings, crowded crosswalks, random city scenes, and of course what I have come to call Street Unicorns, bold expressionists of style. These are people that present themselves in a unique way, with purpose. They’re someone that stands out while living their most authentic life. Getting to meet all of these strangers, now friends have been so rewarding. For me, the people of New York are the most exciting part of it. These are the dreamers and risk-takers of the world that have all ventured to this city where you can reinvent yourself and be whoever you always wanted to be. I have been photographing and interviewing them for years and a few months ago Abrams Books published Street Unicorns and I’m happy to say it’s selling very well all around the globe! Signed copies are available at what I think is the best little bookstore in Manhattan, Bookmarc on Bleeker Street, owned by Marc Jacobs.
There’s always an art opening, dinner party, or some other event that is going on and I do my best to show up for the many people that have been so kind to me. A couple of my favorite galleries are Howl Happening in NoHo and David Zwirner in Chelsea. But if I’m not doing that, I’m getting myself back home, ordering in and in front of my computer to download and edit the day’s work. And a favorite dish to have delivered is the cacio e pepe from Felice, which happens to be the sister restaurant of Sant Ambroeus.
After another shower, I spend twenty minutes with Duolingo learning various languages so I can connect in a more meaningful way with people when traveling to other countries. Then a look at tomorrow’s schedule so I can rest easy knowing everything is all set for the next day.
Photos provided by Robbie Quinn.
Discover more of Robbie Quinn by visiting @robbiequinnnyc