Stas May is one of those New York City guys that tends to pop up in front of the lens and behind it. A Brooklyn-based photographer who’s called this place home for 11 years, May occasionally moonlights as an actor and a model (hey, it’s hard being good looking). His photography—no matter how nice the clothes, pretty the girl, or flattering the lighting—makes sure each image is soaked in an urban edge. It’s that combination of hard and soft, strong and weak that defines the images, and, in a way, is representative of what it means to really live in New York, to see all sides of the coin. ISAORA talked to May about how to salvage a morning commute, the most difficult part of trying to take a picture in New York, and a guy on 12th Street keeping it classy at 95 years young.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
SM: The real chance that today might be the day that something crazy will happen and change the way I view the world.
What keeps you going?
SM: That I don’t feel like I’ve learned enough.
What’s your typical workday look like?
SM: On shoot days, it’s get up and double-check that everything’s been packed.
Describe your morning commute:
SM: Usually around 6:45 a.m. I take the G train to either the A or the L. The key is to leave early enough to beat the morning commute. I usually read the Times or listen to music on the way. Or a book on the Kindle. That thing’s amazing.
What’s the most difficult part about being a photographer in NYC?
SM: Taking a picture is a small part of it. Coordinating schedules is another obstacle for sure.
Then again, what makes it worthwhile?
SM: It’s New York.
Who or what do you find most inspiring here?
SM: The architecture and how it can change from street to street.
Favorite type of person to pass on a New York City sidewalk:
SM: There’s this old dude I always see on 12th and 4th who is always dressed impeccably. It’s inspiring that he’s still going for it.
What’s it mean to live here for you, in work and in life?
SM: It’s such a constant fight. A real battle. New York lets you know if you belong here and it does so very quickly. If you don’t need to be in NYC, you probably won’t stay here long. It’s gotta be in you. Sounds corny, but it’s true.