Even at his own party, New York City nightlife photographer Nicky Digital refused to go without his camera.
“That's what my foray into partying was, meeting people by having a camera,” the mustachioed man of the night told Niteside at the debut of his exhibit at the W Hotel Tuesday night.
“If I don't have my camera I don't really know what I'm supposed to be doing. It's not like I'm not drinking or dancing or having a good time, but it's like without this weight on my shoulder and in my hand, I just don't feel like I'm in the right zone.”
Seventeen of Nicky Digital's favorite photos, in a collection called "Night Lifestyle: New York City After Dark," are displayed on the walls of the hotel's The Living Room in Times Square for the next month. Fans and friends sipped on complementary appletinis while enjoying the party-hopping shutterbug's pictures of some of New York nightlife's colorful characters.
Nicky admitted it wasn't easy narrowing down his archive of more than 800,000 photos when W Hotels approached him about featuring him in their monthly Street Style series. He said going through the massive collection (with the help of family and friends) was a trip down memory lane.
“It was really amazing to go look back through the original galleries I shot, like old Brooklyn photos,” Nicky recalled, referencing his first gigs at the Ruff Club. “And it's so funny to see people's hair now and five years ago.”
Among the trendy crowd of 20- and 30-somethings were the snap-shot characters themselves. Jessie Komitor, a theater major at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, and best friend Stephanie Choate were pictured rocking in a blur of orange and yellow lights at a Cloak and Dagger party.
“My friend Steve was like, 'Hey poster child,' and I was like 'What?' and he was like 'You're on the invitation,' and I was like, 'Word up. I love you too, Nicky,'” the actress recounted on finding out that she was the leading pic in the exhibit.
Like Komitor, many of the subjects in Nicky's photos are frequent models of his that the shutterbug has formed friendships with. Komitor said they met when she was a freshman in college and used to frequent all the “High Voltage" parties.
Nicky explained that's the route he takes when running about town, clicking away at the city's hippest locations.
“It's sort of a collaborative effort. Those people pick me, too. It's the people that I'm surrounded by, it's the people I choose to surround myself with,” the photographer said.
And for those who want to get in on the famed New Yorker's galleries? Here's a tip:
“I'm very attracted to color that people wear, so I may gravitate toward someone who is wearing a golden blouse or something like that, or red,” Nicky said. “And the people that I have fun with are the people I typically gravitate toward to. And of course there are people who really like being in front of the camera.”