Vivienne Gucwa on the essence of NYC

19 May 2014

New York City is known to strike awe and inspiration into those who step foot in it. Vivienne Gucwa is endlessly haunted by a sense of saudade and sehnsucht as she travels around New York City: a deep longing for a place that is unidentifiable but somehow familiar and indicative of what could be identified as home. We spoke with Vivienne to discuss how she distills the essence of New York City and other places around the world into distinctive visual remnants that resonate with her audience.

Describe the moment you knew photography changed your life:
It had rained only an hour before I made my way across the Brooklyn Bridge and as the sun started to set over New York City, the storm clouds parted just enough to allow the most magnificent amount of sunlight wash over the Manhattan Bridge. As the rest of the New York City skyline faded into the languid haze behind the gorgeously lit bridge, I knew right then and there that photography was something that made me feel more alive and at one with myself than anything else in the world.

If you could sum up your work in one word or one sentence, what would that be?
Saudade and sehnsucht.

Saudade is a word of Portuguese origin that refers to an intense desire for something other than the present; a dreamy wistfulness for things that are not found in the present environment. Sehnsucht is a word of German origin that can refer to a nostalgic longing for a far-away place that may or may not exist in reality but feels like home.

What is the most remarkable person, place or thing you have ever photographed and why?
Having had the good fortune of experiencing and photographing New York City at night during blizzards. I can definitely say that it is one of the most magical things I have photographed so far. Winter nights in New York City wrap themselves around you like a cocoon, surrounding you with the sweetest of silences, as trees spin their branches like webs over streets held down by the barest bit of gravity.

Talk to us about your bucket list... what is on the top of that list of things to photograph?
My bucket list consists of traveling the world to do what I love: distilling the essence of the places I photograph into visual remnants that resonate. That said, I would love to take an epic rail journey across Europe, take time to explore Iceland, experience Patagonia fully, I could go on and on!

If you had not become a photographer, what might you be today?
I would definitely still be writing even if I had never discovered my passion for photography. It's a joy that writing and photography are inseparable for me at this point. If I didn't have the opportunity of being a photographer, I would still be writing all the time.

Give us your thoughts about the Global Imaging Ambassadors program?
It's a wonderful program. Sony is at the forefront of innovation currently and so it's fantastic to discover the brilliant bodies of work produced by the Global Imaging Ambassadors.

What is your favourite Sony camera of the moment and why?
I am definitely loving the Sony a7R right now. I used it while on assignment in Paris and the image quality is stellar. 

Learn more about Vivienne Gucwa here