How New York Breaks Your Heart

Bill Hayes’s critically acclaimed memoir Insomniac City provided a first look at his unique street photography. Now he presents an exquisite collection–150 photos in both color and black-and-white–that captures the full range of his work and the magic of chance encounters in New York City.

Hayes’s “frank, beautiful, bewitching” street photographs “unmask their subjects’ best and truest selves”(Jennifer Senior, New York Times): A policeman pauses at the end of a day. Cooks sneak in cigarette breaks. A pair of movers play cards on the back of a truck. Friends claim the sidewalk. Lovers embrace. A flame-haired girl gazes mysteriously into the lens. And park benches provide a setting for a couple of hunks, a mom and her baby, a stylish nonagenarian . . .

How New York Breaks Your Heart reveals ordinary New Yorkers at their most peaceful, joyful, distracted, anxious, expressive, and at their most fleeting–bringing the texture of the city to vivid life. Woven through with Hayes’s lyric reflections, these photos will, like the city itself, break your heart by asking you to fall in love.

Reviews for How New York Breaks Your Heart

“When I think of the great photographers who have depicted this city–Elliot Erwitt, Helen Leavitt, Diane Arbus, Gordon Parks to name only a few–Hayes adds to this bounty….”

“A beautiful companion to Insomniac City and a standalone volume that captures the comedy, tragedy, and magic in the everyday.”

“After his stirring memoir of Oliver Sacks and New York, Hayes turns his sensitive, sympathetic lens to the human poetics coursing through the streets of the iconic city at all hours of the day and night, across every social stratum, every age, every feeling-tone. From the hipsters and the homeless and the protesters and the lovers — oh so many lovers — emerges a chorus of humanity singing the siren song of New York.”

“Just in time for Valentine’s Day, this love letter in photos documents a diverse range of city dwellers while capturing both the excitement and loneliness of living among them.”

“How New York Breaks Your Heart. . . immortalizes ordinary people in the city that never sleeps.”

“A photographic love letter to New York City and its people that is sparse in text but loaded with images and feeling. . . . With every photo, Hayes captures the casual intimacy of his subjects with their natural habitat to show what’s most heartwarming about the city: the rare, diverse, and vital spirit of the people in it.”

“There’s wistfulness in Hayes’ title, for the beauty that breaking reveals. With his photos, Hayes seems to say that if a city breaks your heart, look to its people to piece it back together again.”

“Hayes wields the camera with the same curiosity and elegance as the pen. He transforms a simple sidewalk moment into fine art.”

“New Yorkers know better than to stare on the street, but Bill Hayes’ camera is allowed to, and often his subjects, whether alone or in pairs, stare right back at him, and now at us. It’s in these ocular embraces that we feel the humanity and the beautiful eccentricity of these individuals being revealed. Hayes gives us glimpses into the souls of the city’s characters in these arresting on-the-spot portraits.”

-- Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States

“Bill Hayes’s photos are a love letter to New York….”

“Here we see Hayes’ excellent eye, and his ability to portray his subjects with intimacy and immediacy. The photos tell something about the photographer, as well: how he is drawn to people, and must seem worthy of their trust. The delectation goes both ways.”

“Photographer Bill Hayes captures NYC street life in new book”

“A fabulous cacophony of different cultures and personalities, Bill Hayes’s ode to the Big Apple is nothing short of mesmerizing….”

“Hayes finds snippets of beauty, writing vignettes that capture the mundanity of a domestic relationship and taking photographic portraits of the everyday characters he meets in New York.”

Images From This Book