Above: A Walgreens employee in New York City. Photo by Stephen Speranza for the New York Times
“You’re standing outside and the streets are just empty. It’s bizarre and eerie,” says Stephen Speranza ’14.
Over the past three years as a freelance photographer for the New York Times, Speranza has canvassed the city with his camera in hand, documenting neighborhood block parties, press conferences and rallies, the car washers of Inwood and the tailors of Brooklyn — vignettes of the vibrant Big Apple. And while he’s been busier than ever since New York City became the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in America, Speranza is photographing a much different city than he’s used to.
“There’s just a lot of heavy eyes,” he says. “Especially when everybody’s wearing masks, you can’t really smile at anybody.”
“I just gravitated towards documenting the things around me,” says the New Jersey native.
While in Lesley's photography program, Speranza developed the skills that would help him in his career, including an experience with photographer Raphael Dallaporta at the end of his sophomore year. Photography Chair Christine Collins recommended Speranza as an assistant to the photographer during an assignment for the New York Times Magazine. Although it was a one-off experience, he says it "opened me up to the possibility of working editorially as a photographer."