Photography that needs no explanation, Aaron Berger is all about the effortless and the unforced

Delve into the priceless and fortuitous moments captured by the New York-based street photographer as he reveals why he doesn’t like “clever or intellectual photography.”

2 April 2020

You know those images that just seem way too perfect to be real, well, there are tons in Aaron Berger’s photographic archive. There’s the motley crew of cheeky trick or treaters, the three men with two ice creams each, the red haired twins with startlingly similar expressions, not to mention hundreds upon hundreds of other street scenes capturing moments which are compositionally heavenly.

Throughout a bustling New York, the only constant remains Aaron’s sturdy lens, imbued with a sharp attention to detail ready to snap up a spot at any given moment. His process is simple, and pretty nice too. It involves him walking around the city with a small camera close to hand, spending the day amongst the myriad of characters that file through Manhattan’s grid system day by day. “The best part,” the photographer tells It’s Nice That, “is going for a walk with no distractions.” On the other hand, the worst part, is “coming home and seeing the pictures.”

One day, a while back now, Aaron bought his first camera with the intention of making funny videos. He found out very quickly however, that more than making videos, he wanted to take pictures of the city. “I was attracted to photography because there was less planning and moving parts involved,” he continues on his change of heart. There was no script involved and “it felt natural and immediate,” better suited to Aaron’s intentions than previously realised. With the camera in tow, he realised something pretty crucial; “I think I like to describe things, but I’m not actually creative.”


Aaron Berger

Discerning that his demeanour was better attuned to observation rather than coming up with idea Aaron adds, “photography can work that way.” Just as he took to the streets, in equal measure, the streets took to Aaron, offering him delight after delight of photographic glory. The characters, the colours, the multicultural atmosphere spilled out before him to the extent that if you’ve never been to New York, you practically needn’t bother.

There’s a few images in particular that stand out for Aaron. One of them being a picture of a boy looking up at a light flare while he half hugs a man in a wheelchair all while people buzz by. In another of his highlights, a busy man in a blue suit pushes himself between two social workers adorned in orange under the arch of Grand Central Station. For the photographer, these images stick out in particular for their “moving details and mini dramas.” Without intending to, the images convey drama mid-movement in the same way a freeze frame from a juicy drama evokes narrative. “I didn’t try to make them that way,” adds Aaron. “They just happened.”

Serendipitous and seeping with storyline, these are the kinds of images that have made Aaron’s name for himself in the photography world. His work is instantly enjoyable and accessible, rife with the energy of an inexplicable moment that just happened by chance. On the matter, Aaron goes on, “I like things that feel remarkable and dramatic but also effortless and unforced. I don’t like clever or intellectual photography. I don’t like anything that needs an explanation.” So with that in mind, just enjoy.

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Aaron Berger

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.

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