City Views

by Morgan Gilbard ’15

Photographer Carter Berg ’96 thrives off clarity. While he has captured numerous Ralph Lauren campaigns and fashion magazine spreads throughout his illustrious career, Berg is most fascinated by the commonplace, which through his lens becomes remarkable. His latest volume New York Snapshots is filled with striking views, city grit and wonder.

A sociology major at HWS, Berg discovered his love for photography during his senior year when he worked as a production assistant for the esteemed fashion patron Bruce Weber. After declaring, “I want to do that,” Berg never looked back.

He decided to carry his camera with him wherever he went — a choice that reflected Berg’s identity as a trendsetter a decade before the ubiquity of camera phones and Instagram. Berg is not fighting the tide though; his Instagram is an ode to his loves— New York City, his wife Kasia, and life itself.

Published in October 2014, New York Snapshots is a project Berg developed over 10 years. The book was praised by Architectural Digest for creating a tangible experience for viewers that mimics seeing the city with fresh eyes: “Even the most jaded, seen-it-all New Yorkers will be charmed.”

Q&A with Carter Berg '96

How has your style evolved?
When I first started taking pictures I was more premeditated in terms of when I would shoot. I would take my camera with me only when I knew that there was a picture I wanted to take. I learned the hard way that I was missing moments I wanted to photograph simply because I left my camera at home. I realized that I cannot predict when or where the next moment of inspiration will come. I now take my camera with me pretty much everywhere I go, even if I’m “only” going to park my car. I may not always use it but at least I won’t miss anything simply because my camera is on the shelf.

What has most influenced your work?
My hometown of New York City. It inspires me every time I walk the streets. You can never see it all and it’s always changing.

You studied sociology at HWS. Is there a crossover with your photography?
I absolutely carry what I learned from sociology with me in my work. My favorite class was “The Sociology of Human Nature” taught by Professor Emeritus of Sociology Jim Spates P’00, P’09. My greatest take away was that it made me aware of the value of life experience. And that it is in both positive as well as negative experiences that we grow and learn.

During your time at HWS, where would a friend be most likely to find you? There was a hotdog place downtown called “The Dog House” that we used to go to for lunch quite often. The man who owned and ran it was named Johnny and it was an especially unique place. Chilicheese dogs were the best! Johnny retired and the place closed just before I graduated.

Proudest moment of your career?
Publishing a book of pictures on my hometown called New York Snapshots was tremendous. Photographing my mom’s latest book, Never Stop To Think Do I Have A Place For This [by Mary Randolph Carter] is another. Lastly I’ve been very fortunate to photograph advertising campaigns for Ralph Lauren over the past 10 years. No complaints!

Nightstand: What is your favorite subject to photograph?

Owner, Leah Kristensen Photography;
Koege, Denmark

“I live in Denmark, and my passion lately is the Danish countryside. The everchanging light, the flat horizon, the rich color... it’s all so beautiful.”

Owner, Jon White Galleries;
Rochester, N.Y.

“I enjoy most of the photography I do today, and there are a lot of great subject matter out there. Through my ongoing project, “The Colors of the Urban Landscape,” I’ve been traveling to different cities to find local color wherever I can.”

Owner, Karen Gowen Photography;
Chadds Ford, Pa.

“I am first and foremost a portrait photographer with a bent toward a photojournalistic style. I love photographing people of all ages but especially kids ages 3-8 because they are so full of confidence and are never afraid to show their true personalities. I have become known for capturing the essence of people without the trappings of formal posing and props. I love people and it shows in my work.”


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