Midnight Kiss, Avenue C by Chris Bickford

Under a waning moon in New York’s Alphabet City, two lovers pause by the glow of a streetlamp.

From the project In the Night , a journey through the the nocturnal world of New York’s “new” Lower East Side and the culture of youth, hip, art, love, loneliness, ambition, and abandon that populates its streets.


“They were the crest of the wave, young, gifted, privileged, serious for now about making art or launching some kind of maverick free enterprise or just being citizens of the world, and not only reasonably confident in their ability to do so but also in their god-given right to do so. And why not, Eric thought, why not…”

–Richard Price, Lush Life


Chris Bickford’s piece After the Storm made its debut on Burn in March of this year (view essay here) and has since been featured at the Look3 Festival of the Photograph and in Surfer’s Journal. In November it will be part of solo exhibitions in Michigan and Washington, DC. Images from the project will be featured in a piece for later this summer. It is available in book form through


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Chris Bickford



40 thoughts on “chris bickford – midnight kiss, avenue c”

  1. r-o-m-a-n-t-i-c!

    i love the colours of this NY midnight! …”In the Midnight” is surely something in the making…

    Best Wishes to you Chris…

  2. the moon..
    the cars…
    the anticipated kiss…
    I’m gonna wait till
    the midnight hour…..
    GREAT shot!!!
    ohh la la….

  3. Simple, straight forward, direct. I like this image – it speaks to me of magical of anticipation and connection in an otherwise mundane world. I can keep looking at this image.

  4. I guess you have to be young and hip. Fine as art, though. The jarring OOF areas bother me, but guess it fits the mood. It looks more posed than romantic to me, but I’m not young and hip.

  5. ahhhhh – a very nice interlude.

    Cue Louis Armstrong’s “We Have All the Time in the World” – that is the tune which came into my head as i viewed it. To invoke a classic like that is good and speaks volumes for the image.

    I like it.

  6. Genuine, deep, beautiful. Very pleased to see this here. And thanks for the bit of backstory, too. Forgive me for asking a boring “tech” question: is there fill flash in there or is that nice glow on the side of their faces from a store window behind you? Thanks.

    Really like your stuff, Chris.


  7. In a city where your energies are constantly sucked out of you and thrown in many different directions, it is so nice to see that moments like this are still happening. When you’re in love, however, I guess the setting is always an afterthought as you become enveloped and saturated in this feeling…pausing for a kiss in the midst of walking the street. The anticipation, the tingling that works its way up from your toes to the top of your head; this moment know no time…this moment knows no place, except for where lips brush hotly past and converge in the moment. Oh man, I could use a moment like this soon…thank you for sharing, Chris. Beautiful work.

  8. Love it. You don’t have to be young and hip to appreciate this shot. How does it make you feel? That is the ultimate question. Do you feel anything or are you numb to life’s constant and ubiquitous flow of images. I personally like the color treatment. If we can push the boundaries of black and white with grain, blur and motion then why not use color to draw on our natural emotive response that has been part of the collective consciousness if not hard wired into our DNA from or earliest pre-cognitive days.

  9. Looks like an Ad, nothing wrong in that. Technically great love the treatment, shows emotion. Would sell well in a library.

    Chris was this for a shoot for clients or did you set it up with models?



  10. Posed or not, a very cinematic treatment, the background acting as a curtain that just does not know how to hide all the humanity in a big city. At the same time, from their stance we can also imagine a narrative of our own, from their stances. They seem to be half at it, but maybe also, not quite in it, ie. half out of it already. He seems in control, but maybe she does have the last word on where this will go. Is it the beginning? The end? Does the curtain participate in the charade?…… The yellow posts seem to make it a draw, so far. Etc…

    Thanks Chris.

  11. Hey Chris,

    Nice shot….love the mood it conveys and the feeling of being part of that moment…


  12. First of all, really nice shot, Chris. Posed or not, doesn’t really matter to me. This photo captures the fact and the feeling. Makes me want to grab my wife and make out on the street.

    I especially like the way the couple are framed by the traffic lights. It reminds me of the green light at the end of the dock in The Great Gatsby, representative of an idealized future and pursuit of the heart’s inner-most desires.

  13. Quick addition to my previous comment, I just noticed that the moon (also green) is obscured by clouds…another Gatsby parallel. The wonderful, idillic moment of this shot will end, and the couple will one day have to face the reality of each other. Beautiful.

  14. Hey folks, thanks for the comments. The setup of the shot was basically that I saw the building and the moon, and I pretty much sat there and asked people as they walked by (it was a quiet night and Avenue C is not a very busy street) if they wouldn’t mind being in my picture…I was there for about an hour and a half, I think…This couple, I didn’t really tell them to do anything, I snapped maybe five frames of them and this one was the best. They were obviously very hot for each other–I don’t know the full extent of their relationship because I really didn’t want to disturb them in their romantic evening. They very much took the whole thing in stride and walked on, wished me a good night, etc…What I like about the photo is the girl’s expression. She so full of anticipation of a kiss, you can almost feel her body tingling. But no, they weren’t models.

    In the piece at large, I’m going for mix of a classical aesthetic with a bit of a film noir/comic book treatment. I want it to be very much “old” New York and “new” New York at the same time. Check out the “In the Night” section of the website for more photos. I lived on the Lower East Side about 10 years ago and felt a strange romance about the area. The crowd was very much young and hip, everybody’s in a band or working on a conceptual art piece or just hanging out being hip. There is an innocence about the whole place, no matter how many tattoos and piercings and black boots you see everywhere. For the most part, the kids are just young, well-educated dreamers from privileged backgrounds. The irony of the situation, which I have have yet to capture, and still haven’t decided how, or whether I will, is that they are living on stolen ground, real estate that once belonged to a large Puerto Rican community and a lot of criminals and drug-addicts. The old term for the LES is “Loisaida”, which is basically just Puerto Rican pidgin for “Lower East Side”…It buts up against the projects to the east, and Chinatown to the South, but all these different cultures barely notice each other. When I was living there, Avenue C was just a little sketchy, the border into the forbidden zone. Now it has been subsumed by the hipsters, there are some nice restaurants and cool music bars up and down the street, and even people from uptown come to dine and carouse there. It’s some kind of strange La-La land. There are few children, few families, and few people over the age of 40 living there. It’s expensive as hell, and yet kids in their 20’s working catering and restaurant jobs flock to the place, piling into tiny rooms that go for about $1500 a person in a shared apartment. It’s the epicenter of hip in New York, which is pretty much the epicenter of hip in the world, or so New Yorkers like to think. Williamsburg in Brooklyn, however, has begun to take over, probably already has; the LES is getting a little tame in comparison, a little yuppie-fied…

    This couple aren’t exactly hipsters, and I’m not sure why one would have to have any appreciation, knowledge or care about hip-dom to appreciate their moment. I like to think of it more as an NYC version of Doisneau’s “Hotel de Ville”, or at least something in that vein. Just a brief moment of peace and bliss in the heart of a city that never stops moving.

  15. John Lizarazo

    this photo.. it’s great, perfect moment; just the right timing

    you definitely have what you set out for when you say “old new york.” it’s the first thing that came in to my mind when I looked at this photo.. without reading any text; it was instant!

    the lighting is fantastic, setup is perfect (attributed to you scoping out the spot and waiting, very interesting). I love the way the couple is positioned on the corner

    the vanishing lines make this image so intense to look at. gahhh i love it

    congratulations on such a well done photo


  16. The wait was worth it.Reminds me of Paris,Rome and Venice!(Without the big cars!)Love this image.

  17. Light, mood, color, moment, expression…it’s ALL there, Chris. What a terrific series you’re working on. Man, it is SO Lower East Side!!! Your color palette makes me salivate.

    Great to see you in C’ville–just the first of many meetings I trust…


  18. what i like most are the lights in the background… the mood, the car headlights, the lights in the building windows, the green street lights, the store front lights… perfect mood and moment for a kiss!

    nice work Chris!

  19. I like how the two “lovers” are positioned at the corner of the building in the background, I think this is what attracts me the most, and I am old and I really love this.

  20. I really like this, some might call it cliche, the composition is a little unbalanced IMO, but it’s got strong aesthetics like all of your work.

  21. This is great.

    Some people say the composition is a bit unbalanced, but I think its spot on! The buildings, the lights, the perspective.

    Well done.

    And I just noticed you have a lot of OBX shots. I’ve been a lot of places, but the Outer Banks is probably one of my favorite places in the world – maybe I’ll see you around there sometime!

  22. jenny lynn walker

    I love it! The romance of it. Particularly the moodiness and the colours. But, clearly both guy and girl ‘know’ they’re being photographed. So perhaps a few moments earlier or moments later would have captured a touch more passion in the frame? Or you should have instructed the guy at least to take his hands out of his pocket, if it is an image taken with friends?! Hey, if you cover the two yellow street lamps with your fingers, check out the feeling in the image then! Not sure if that change in feeling is due to removing a distraction in the background or an imbalance in the composition… but it feels more intimate, more ‘right’ and ‘takes you there’… : )

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