David Godlis captures the grit and grandeur of the 1970s-’80s New York City and Miami in his street photography.
When he is on the street armed with his camera, photographer David Godlis describes himself as “a gunslinger and a guitar picker all in one.” Ever since he bought his first 35mm camera in 1970, Godlis has made it his mission to capture the world on film just as it appears to him in reality.
Godlis is most famous for his images of the city’s punk scene and serving as the unofficial official photographer for the Film Society of Lincoln Center. For 40 years, his practice has also consisted of walking around the streets of New York City and shooting whatever catches his eye: midnight diner patrons, stoop loiterers, commuters en route to the nearest subway station. With an acute sense of both humor and pathos, Godlis frames everyday events in a truly arresting manner.
This publication presents Godlis’ best street photography from the 1970s and ’80s in a succinct celebration of New York’s past. The book is introduced by an essay written by cultural critic Luc Sante and closes with an afterword written by Blondie co-founder and guitarist Chris Stein.
In January 1974, David Godlis, then a 22-year-old photo student, took a ten-day trip to Miami Beach, Florida. Excited to visit an area he had frequented a decade earlier as a kid, Godlis set his sights on an area of art deco hotels, a Jewish retiree enclave on the expansive beaches facing the Atlantic Ocean.
These retirees, all dressed up in their best beach outfits, would spend their days on lounges and lawn chairs, playing cards amid the sunshine and palm trees. Photographing this somewhat surrealistic scene, Godlis discovered his own street photography style—an eclectic mix of Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Garry Winogrand, and Lee Friedlander. Godlis shot 50 rolls of black-and-white film in just ten days, making his way up and down the beaches, photographing what he didn’t know then was essentially the end of an era. The area he photographed in 1974 is now the infamous South Beach.
This volume reproduces this account of a vanished Miami Beach for the first time.
About the Author
Born in New York City in 1951, David Godlis picked up his first camera in 1970. He stumbled into the burgeoning punk scene at CBGB on the Bowery in the mid-1970s, where, after seeing Brassaï’s photographs of 1930s Paris, he began to photograph with long handheld exposures under the Bowery streetlights, portraying the Ramones, Television, Richard Hell, and Blondie, documented in his first book History Is Made at Night. Since the late 1980s, he has been the unofficial official photographer for the Film Society of Lincoln Center, covering the New York Film Festival.
Title: Godlis Streets
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Reel Art Press (November 17, 2020)
Weight: 2.2 pounds
Title: Godlis Miami
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Reel Art Press (November 9, 2021)
Weight: 2.5 pounds