Encore Episode: We Are Our Stuff – Sally Davies' Portraits of New Yorkers – The B&H Photography Podcast


This episode of the B&H Photography Podcast was originally published on July 29, 2021. We revisit it today to mark the passing of the podcast torch from creative producer John Harris to Jill Waterman, a creative content writer for the B&H Explora blog, who appears as a guest with Davies. Harris will continue to be an avid listener to the show, and we hope he’ll also grace us with his voice on occasion as a future guest. 

Photographer Sally Davies embodies a remarkable creative spirit, and we think that spirit also resides in the homes of the 72 New Yorkers she photographed for her colorful book of environmental portraits, appropriately titled, New Yorkers. If this spirit does not exist and Davies is not in tune with it, how could she have captured the essence of her subjects and their abodes so efficiently, in some cases in just minutes?

We answer that question and many others in this discussion about the making of her book. We are also joined by Jill Waterman, who has been photographed by Davies, and has written about her work. Our conversation gets to the heart of Davies’ fanciful project, and touches upon its themes of inclusiveness and of gentrification, but also digs into the process of photographing in cramped quarters with little time, and of the surprisingly difficult task of getting people not to smile for a portrait.

We talk about Davies’ decision to eschew light stands for on-camera flash and to use a Sony mirrorless camera and Zeiss 18mm lens. We also talk about the importance of creative freedom and rejecting preconceived expectations. Davies photographed a wide range of New Yorkers for this series and did not refuse a single person suggested to her, but when it came to organizing a book, edits needed to be made, and we discuss this process, as well. Davies is well-known for her street photography, and we mention her projects on neighborhood storefronts and vintage cars, but this series of interior portraits is as “New York” as it comes. Join us for this engaging conversation.

Guests: Sally Davies and Jill Waterman

Photograph © Sally Davies

Marina Press, from “New Yorkers” Photograph © Sally Davies
Laurie Anderson, from “New Yorkers” Photograph © Sally Davies
Rachid Alsataf, from “New Yorkers” Photograph © Sally Davies
Vicky Roman, from “New Yorkers” Photograph © Sally Davies
Danny Fields , from “New Yorkers” Photograph © Sally Davies
Frances Pilot, from “New Yorkers” Photograph © Sally Davies
Margo and Lois, from “New Yorkers” Photograph © Sally Davies
Liz Adams, from “New Yorkers” Photograph © Sally Davies
Flloyd NYC, from “New Yorkers” Photograph © Sally Davies
Sally Davies, from “New Yorkers” Photograph © Sally Davies
Cover of “New Yorkers” by Sally Davies

Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: Jill Waterman
Senior Producer: Jason Tables
Executive Producer: Shawn C Steiner


Dear John, Thank you for so many wonderful episodes of the B&H Podcast. Your calming influence, inquiring questions, and intelligent banter was appreciated & it was wonderful. I wish great success in what lies head for you. All the best Paul M from Milton MA

Thank you so much Paul, your words are truly appreciated. All the best...