He Walked New York’s Streets to Find People Who ‘Don’t Quite Fit In’


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“I am very drawn to nuisances and to people that don’t quite fit in, or people that do things slightly differently than anybody else,” the photographer Daniel Arnold said. For a week in March, he walked the streets of New York, 10 to 15 miles a day, searching for people who fit the bill.

On his Instagram, which has 146,000 followers, viewers can observe his ability to find oddities in everyday situations. “I see somebody doing their own thing on the street, and I think, ‘That is the person I want to capture,’” Mr. Arnold said. “Not some beauty queen, not somebody who has got an outfit that you recognize from a block away, not somebody with expensive name brands. I think a person whose internal experience makes them stand out externally — that’s a stylish as you can be.”

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CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

As the eldest of six children, Mr. Arnold also keeps an eye out for parent-child interactions. In the case of the photograph above, he was interested in the differences in dress between a parent and her daughter. “The mother is very formal and traditional, and the daughter is as cute and assimilated and just dripping personality as you can be,” he said. “It just felt like a really nice visual representation of the Americanization of the traditional stories.”

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CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

In this street shot, a mother and daughter seemed to express their bond not only through the posture, but also through style. “There is the bonus that they both have this golden-colored accent going, matching glasses and their hair done up,” Mr. Arnold said. “It just says a lot about their relationship.”

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CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

For Mr. Arnold, this photo tells a story of intersections. “I like his seriousness in contrast to the huddle of delighted shoppers behind him,” he said.

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CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

Another study in contrasts captured by Mr. Arnold shows a man in a bold sweater moving past a cluster of younger men at a good clip. “This is an age-dynamic story from me,” he said. “He just blazed by them, and you could just tell he’s been making people look twice since before these guys were born.”

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CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

In Midtown, Mr. Arnold was happy to come upon what appeared to be a model carrying her head shot. “It tells a different story, which is very New York, the way we all carry around these dolled-up personas as if they were a prop in our arm, and she just does it literally,” he said.

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CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

Mr. Arnold said he didn’t want the humor in his photos to be misread as mocking. “I just happen to be somebody that really appreciates the odd little human choices that make up a person’s appearance walking down the street,” he said.

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CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

If you’ve lived in New York long enough, you may have crossed paths with this man. “I don’t even take his picture, because the poor guy probably gets his picture taken 700 times a day,” Mr. Arnold said. “But this time we had his A-shaped Mohawk, his A-shaped bag and then, miraculously, coming from the left, we have a woman carrying a bag with an ‘A’ on it.”

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CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

Because Mr. Arnold is, oddly enough for a photographer, colorblind, he did not realize this woman’s hair matched her scarf and jacket until his editor mentioned it to him. “That’s funny,” he said. “I’m pleasantly surprised to know there is a color thing going on that I didn’t even know about.” So why did he take this picture? “It felt like New York the way I imagined it as a kid,” he said. “The classic columns, the graffiti, the shopping bag. And then this lady in her bundled-up overcoat, involved in her life.”

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CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

Mr. Arnold was initially drawn by this man’s checkered overcoat. But then he realized something else once he took a closer look at the picture: “The whole photo, wall to wall, is broken up into little squares.”

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CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

Mr. Arnold has a fondness for photographs with some humor to them, and New Yorkers are often happy to help out, as with this subject who has a camera tripod hanging from his lower lip. “This is one of those great things about New York — that people, no matter how curated or dressed up, no matter how fancy or unfancy, no matter how wrapped up in their lives they are, they can still walk down the street like they are alone in their living room,” he said.

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CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

A fan of the cool-kid skateboard label Supreme, Mr. Arnold is not as obsessive as the woman he photographed on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. “Here’s a woman in a Supreme hat, Supreme jacket, Supreme undershirt carrying a Supreme skateboard in a Supreme bag,” he said. “I’m so fascinated with the Supreme genius marketing. People want to just drape themselves in this logo.”

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CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

This photograph isn’t the first that Mr. Arnold has taken of a man who wears a coat with an image of the Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan on the back. “I love that he manages to be stylish while delivering some heavy politics,” he said.

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CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

The irony of this couple, Mr. Arnold said, was impossible to resist: “I just thought it was too funny a contradiction that these two put so much time into pampering this little dog while wearing this savage garment.”

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CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

In a city filled with people constantly interacting with personal tech tools, it seems like something of a throwback to see a pedestrian who represents the space age. “You don’t look twice at someone staring into a smartphone, operating the whole world in their hand-held computer,” he said. “This guy to me really drives home the point of the crazy times we live in, a spaceman walking down Fifth Avenue.”

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CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

This photo was taken on International Women’s Day, which coincided with the protest movement called “A Day Without a Woman.” Many of those who participated dressed in red. “I really do like the way that clothing tells the story of the day,” Mr. Arnold said.



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