Gary Russo is a New York City photographer who describes his childhood as “a strange mixture of a grimy city and the beautiful waters of a coastal land.” He expresses these roots in his photography. “A mixture of the urban and the rural; pictures of a city that at times is not so pretty, but where deep profound beauty can be felt and sometimes expressed visually, pictures of the patches of nature that exist within and on the fringes of that city, pictures where one can escape to for brief moments.”

jamaica bay wildlife refuge

SHK: YOU MIX URBAN AND RURAL. I LOVE THAT. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WANT TO SEEK OUT NATURE WITHIN THE CITY?

I think my choice of trying to seek out nature within the city has a lot to do with how I view “Our” place within nature. I believe that all we create, from art to buildings, is just recycled from the natural world  I also believe that all that we know, we know from our ability to understand the natural world. Yet, even with this said, we can still for the most part recognize what is man-made from what has occurred naturally. I try to examine the areas where the line is blurred between the two, where the two are in conflict and where the two coexist in harmony.

SOME OF YOUR PICTURES ARE SO SERENE AND OTHERS SHOW THE WONDERFUL PEOPLE WHO FILL THE STREETS OF NEW YORK CITY. WHICH DO YOU PREFER TO PHOTOGRAPH? WHAT’S HARDER OR POSSIBLY EASIER?

It’s just a reflection of two sides to my own nature. I find that I need both in my life to function well. I need a lot of quiet time but I also feed upon the energy and pulse of this beautiful city and the people in it. I can’t say that one is harder than the other. I would like to shot more people in the future though.

street dancer coney island

YOU HAVE A LOT OF PHOTOS TAKEN IN QUEENS. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE AREAS OF NEW YORK TO PHOTOGRAPH?

I love Queens because I love the ethnic diversity.

WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF MORE URBAN OR RURAL?

I would consider myself more urban at times though I try to capture the same vastness that a person might expect to see in a photo of the great American west.

 SO CAN YOU SAY THAT THERE IS SUCH THING AS PEACE WITHIN A CITY?

I think that peace, for many, comes from both within and without. It would be hard to experience the serenity of a beautiful sunset with a noisy turbulent mind or to experience the same with in a noisy turbulent city. For me though if I can quiet my mind I’ll connect with that sunset, the snow fall, the reflections in a pool of rain water or just the way the wind blows leaves around… Even in the city. And it is through my photography that I hope to share these times with others.

central park tao sorrento etsy

DO YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE BESIDES PHOTOGRAPHY?

I love to partner dance. I haven’t been able to do much of it lately but it is one of my favorite things to do. I also like to take long bicycle rides. I also like to write and read.  As far as a living goes I work as a re-toucher mostly for fashion and cosmetics.

COME ACROSS ANY COOL PEOPLE WITH A COOL STORY?

I come across a lot of  cool people but there isn’t anything that is salient in my mind about their stories. But this question has given me an idea. Learning to listen and see at the same time.

dog and owner etsy tao sorrento

WHAT PULLS YOU TO TAKE SO MANY PHOTOS OF THE SEVEN TRAIN?

I grew up in Jersey City but always had a fascination about New York City. The subway for me was very much a part of how I began to explore that city.  Also I live about a 1/2 city block away from the Seven Train so, it is very much a part of my life, how I get to places, the noise that it makes when passing in the night.

seven train tao sorrento etsy

HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH IDEAS OF WHAT YOU WANT TO PHOTOGRAPHY? DO YOU WALK AROUND AND THINGS CATCH YOUR EYE OR DO YOU HAVE IT PLANNED OUT?

It’s a combination. I mostly come up with a task to do such as today I am going to photograph reflections in store windows and then I hit the pavement looking for interesting reflections.

WHAT IS THE MEANING BEHIND YOUR ETSY STORE NAME?

Sorrento Italy is where my paternal grandparents were born. I grew up listening to stories about Sorrento from my grandmother. It was a place that I felt connected to even though I had never visited it. It also connected me to my own ethnicity that of being Italian American. Taoism is a eastern religion/philosophy that I admire greatly so the name Tao Sorrento is just a blending of the two. It is also a little bit like east meets west.

nature-boardwalk-tao-sorrento-etsy

x Check out and buy Gary’s photography at his Etsy store! x

x Check out our interview with Brooklyn artist Liza Lacroix! x

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