Urban Electric lighting

Flashback Photo Series

Urban Electric lighting

No. 10

"I love the look of Pier 43 1/2 where you catch the boat to Alcatraz. It is frozen in time - a prison spell of classic graphics and neon. Is there any other word or place more captivating than Alcatraz? Or any place more undulating than San Francisco?"

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 9

"Some people, when you meet them, you just know by how they roll their sleeves up and how clean the lenses of their glasses are that they probably have a very organized closet. With everything ironed. And they probably have a silver tray of intoxicating scents on the bathroom counter. And wonderful well-lit art on the walls in the hallway and probably really good coffee cups with the perfect handles. Some people just know where everything should go, how it all fits together, how spaces, shapes and color converse like a symphony's different instruments do. And you can see it if you listen hard enough. Some people are the musicians, and then there is Stephen Earle. The conductor. Standing high above the city directing."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 8

"So we are all pretty familiar with the escapades of Clark W. Griswold. He innocently stumbles, bumbles, fumbles, self destructs, destroys and plows through life like a human wrecking ball. Well, everyone has a moment or two like these epic eff ups in life.

Florence, Italy has zones called ZTL's in which cars are not allowed, only by permit. We were staying at a hotel (designed by Ferragamo) on the Arno River near the Ponte Vecchio. I called the hotel in advance and they said we could drive directly there and park and they provide the permit. So we drove. Into Florence. In the dark. In the ZTL. And got very lost and then very confused. Circuitously meandering through the maze of the city like a lab rat for a clinical trial of a high-grade barbiturate, we found ourselves driving into a pack of zombies. Turns out they were tourists. They were staring at us in bewilderment, with the look of "what the heck are you idiots doing?!" Brushing against our rental car. Wanting to pound on the hood like Ratso in Urban Cowboy, "I'm walking here!" We plowed through the crowds.

With the glow of Google Maps on the phone from the back seat, I say... "I think we are on the Ponte Vecchio." Like, we are DRIVING on the Ponte Vecchio. This bridge is probably in the top ten of famous bridges in the world. It was built originally in Roman times and then rebuilt in the Middle Ages. In its current form, the structure dates from the 14th century and is now covered with tourists and jewelry shops. We rambled through the cattle herd of Tevas and fanny packs to the end of the bridge where two Carabinieri (cops) stood. I did my best to speak Italian, which I studied in college. I probably said, "Me sorry. Me dumb. I like pasta. Wine. Thank you." To which the cops reply in English, "Do you realize what you have done?!" We just asked if we could park the car at the base of the bridge and have someone come get it and park it for us. They obliged."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 7

"Trying to read graffiti in English is hard enough. Trying to read it in French is Greek to me. This is from the bridge that leads up to the Louvre in Paris. You can tell that the words from previous graffiti on the stone were blasted off and the sign retained its tags. Graffiti can be like society's forensic pathology if you can read it and understand its significance, if there is any."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 6

"At the front of one of the shopping arcades in London, think this was Burlington Arcade, there are security guys / bouncers donning top hats and capes. Patrick Swayze and Sam Elliott (Roadhouse) have nothing on these dapper lads. I wanted him to turn around with a wry smile, brandishing a gold tooth and say 'Ello Luv' like a character from a Guy Ritchie movie."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 5

"Carl hardly needs a last name. He's a pretty unique character. Not on the same page as Prince, Madonna or The Rock, but more like Kramer. He collects knives, petrified wood, odd trinkets and parts of well-designed mechanical odds and ends. He collects inspiration in his card catalog of a brain. Carl took us to the National Arts Club in NYC. Originally founded at the turn of the last century, it was a Victorian club where you could imagine Henry James and Sargent having a chat over a brandy and a grasshopper (think James would be having a grasshopper even though they probably weren't "invented" yet). The club is a temporal 3-D collection where Carl retreats and soaks up some connection with the past when things were made with more care and physicality. He's a Collector. He is Carl. He is Cool."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 4

"We had the distinct honor of getting a tour of St. Giles estate with Nick, the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury. Nick has been restoring the house for years now. Lives in it with his family. In order to help sustain and support the restoration of St. Giles, Nick rents it out for events. There is even a gigantic disco ball leading down to a dance floor and bar in the cellar.

I came across this lonely, empty coat rack at the base of the stairs going up to parts of the house that are still being restored. The light was like nothing I have ever seen. Very dark. Like walking into living chiaroscuro. A painting, this simple scene poked me on the shoulder and said 'this is a moment.' After I shot this, I kept thinking of the weight of the coats on the sturdy frame of wooden hangers. Who was at the party? What heavy damp wool wrapped itself here while the owner sipped on something in the cellar? The weight of the floors above, overhead. The walls of this historic home heaving like an old dog breathing after a laborious walk. Old and tired. I wonder what the mass of time and sense of responsibility for this place must feel like. The buttress of his family history and the foundation for the new St. Giles, Nick has found a way to carry it on his shoulders."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 3

"In my experience and opinion, fewer than some have and thankfully more than others, New York City has the best light and shadow in the fall. The buildings and fire escapes look like they are a painted backdrop on an old Hollywood movie set. The people walking in them like a million tiny characters all with their own distinct stories."

-Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 2

"Michael, our Creative Director, and I have worked together now for 12 years. This photo was taken at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Michael doesn't like his photo taken — so sorry Michael, but I like this photo. Because it shows a lot about you. You are always looking. Always wanting to go for a walk. And walk and walk and walk. You are like a visual vacuum cleaner. An Art Hoover. You have a photographic memory that just gathers as much as it can... walking, walking, walking. In many ways, you have taught me to see things differently. A line, a shape, a color, a little Alice in Wonderland is everywhere. A new painting, a new photo, a new SNL skit is just waiting to be discovered — all you have to do is walk and find it. Thank you, Michael, for walking me around all of these years."

- Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

No. 1

"I haven't seen snow many times in my life. A few of us OG Urbanites got stranded in a blizzard in New York 10 years ago! And we hit the streets walking around for hours. We hobbled into Central Park and these ducks were just 'chillin.' That night we had a beer (both dark and light) at McSorley's, my first time, and some delicious egg drop soup at a spot in Chinatown that had pictures of famous customers on the wall (Bill Cosby, ew). This image of the ducks on the pond is one of those moments that will be emblazoned on my brain for the rest of my life. Even when you get older if you have never seen something before, sometimes you still have the eyes of a child. You will remember."

- Anne Chandler

Urban Electric lighting

INTRODUCTION

In our line of work, we are fortunate to meet some truly amazing people, many of whom we also get to photograph in the places they live and work. And the inspiration doesn’t stop with faces—every time we travel, whether it’s to visit a new location or return to a beloved favorite destination, we capture it. As you might imagine, we’ve built up a pretty amazing archive of this documentary photography over the years—especially now that we’ve launched The Current, our annual publication. 

Today, we’re excited to begin highlighting some of the most special images from the trove in our new weekly series, Flashback. And there’s no one better to share the stories behind the pictures than Anne Chandler, our resident photographer of more than 13 years, whose ability to spin a tale rivals her skills behind the camera lens. Welcome to Flashback No. 1. Enjoy.