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Sunsets over skylines. The jagged tips of buildings hovering over concrete. Halogen lights in subway hallways. Empty platforms. The relentless verticality. Whether shooting from above or below, photographer Antonio Jaggie knows exactly how to capture the urban. Which is why it makes it even more mind-blowing that he’s only 17 years old and still in high school out in Garfield, New Jersey. We got to talking to the young gun about the worst part about his neighborhood, how bad weather makes for good photographs, and what cities he hopes to capture in the near future.
What’s the worst thing about New Jersey?
I'd have to say the worst thing about this town are the kids I go to school with. I don't really fit in the scene with my high school. Those kids are all about the high school sports scene and partying on the weekends. I'm more into the underground art scene and chilling with some homies in the city. The best part of my town is the pizza places. Jersey pizza is banging just like NYC.
You've got $15 to spend at a NY bodega, what do you buy?
$15 at my local bodega… I'm buying a pack of cigarettes, AriZona Iced Tea, a dutch, and some candy. That'll satisfy me, for sure.
Craziest thing that's ever happened to you in a cab:
I don't really take cabs because when you're only 17 years old you're a broke boy and you hop subway turnstiles to get around. But there was this one time I took a cab and realized I had no money with me. That dude was pissed when I left the car at a red light.
What do you like most about the city during the day?
The thing I like most about the city during the day would have to be looking at how confused tourists are. They have the best looks on their faces when they're trying to find Times Square and they're all the way in downtown. I find that to be something I see all the time during the day.
What do you like most about the city at night?
New York City at nighttime. Man, it's a completely different ballgame. You got the drunk girls coming out of cabs, you got the drug dealers asking if you need that loud or some cocaine, you got the homeless people finding where they're going to sleep for the night. Then you got the night shooters that go out and rage for the night on top of a bridge or some rooftops. I love how the city really never sleeps. It's a 24-hour shift on the streets.
What's your favorite type of person to shoot in NYC?
My favorite type of people to shoot in the city are definitely homeless people. I like to tell a story through my photo and nothing speaks louder than a dude who's trying to get some cash to see his mother get buried, but he can't because he's homeless and broke and has no way to get there.
Coolest place you've found to shoot in:
The coolest place I've found to shoot in were these caves I recently went to in upstate New York. Clearest water I've ever seen in my life, and those were some trippy caves.
If you had to pair your photography with a particular album or song, what would it be and why?
Hmmm. That's a good question. The first song that came to my mind was "It All Feels Right" by Washed Out. When you listen to Washed Out, you can describe the music in many different ways. I wish to achieve that same perspective with my photos. It could tell a story but everybody's idea of what story I'm trying to tell is different. Washed Out to you can be a completely different perspective to what it's like to me.
You ever have anyone who gives you trouble shooting?
When you're an artist, you don't earn respect and support from everybody. My family doesn't really understand what photography is to me and how much time and effort I put into it. So I always get the talk about how I should be more focused on my future rather than shooting photos. That's about the most trouble I get from people. Or when I'm in the city and someone sees me taking a picture of a homeless person, some of them get offended. I understand why they would but I am just trying to showcase the stories I see in my life.
How do you handle taking pictures when the weather gets bad out here?
I was always one to love bad weather. Bad weather is good weather to me. A storm, a blizzard, or a hurricane. That's the craziest and most enjoyable weather to shoot in. Clear blue skies with a nice sunny day is bad weather to me.
How’d you learn how to shoot? Do you think shooting is an innate talent or something you can learn?
I taught myself what I know. I practiced and practiced and I'm still practicing. I get tips from other artists on different ways to shoot or different ways to edit but I never studied this art anywhere. I can teach you what you need to know but it's all on you after that. You gotta find your style.
Any cities you've been wanting to shoot but haven't yet? Where and why?
I've never in my life have been out of the Northeast. I want to travel to any city possible. Hong Kong and Dubai are definitely my top two. In February, I'm making my first trip and heading to Chicago. Next summer I'll be on the road for a few weeks road tripping with my bro. We’re going to hit every city possible until we hit up Cali. I can't wait to start traveling. There's so much to this world than to stay in one area.
What about New York?
I will be planning on moving to New York after I graduate high school in June. It's where I think I belong and I'm excited to start a new chapter in my life in the city I love.
Photos courtesy of @kostennn via Instagram.