For the project “1 in 8 million” The New York Times recorded the accounts of New York City people from all walks of life through personal audio interviews and black and white portraits. The vast multimedia profiles zoomed in on 54 New Yorkers in weekly episodes throughout 2009.
From the son of a French silk purveyor who works as a wedding wardrober on Saks Fifth Avenue to a woman diagnosed with a rare form of cancer regaining her health and taking long walks around the city’s many boroughs, the project takes snapshots of individuals among a sea of 8 million faces.
The project’s brilliance is in its simplicity. It provides an oral history for each person, taking a slice of their life through recordings and photographs. The beauty of the accounts is in the cracks, the little quirks, sentiments, and moments of honesty that these New York City dwellers share.
One of my many favorite moments like this is when the wedding wardrober, named Michael Kramer-Metraux, shares his belief that “the old saying the clothes make the man, it’s true… You put a guy in black with a white shirt, he looks elegant.”
The quote comes complete with black and white images of his smartly tailored suit and the precise knot of his tie.
The glimpses of many more New York City characters piece together a mosaic of the city, one with ordinary people with extraordinary tales. The urban taxidermist, the bridge bicycler, the struggling stand-up, the bus-depot barber, the teenage mother, the tabloid photographer, and many more all coexist in this city that never sleeps.