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This limited-edition print by Cuban photographer, Abelardo Morell, featured in The New York Times Magazine Photographs (Aperture, 2011), edited by Kathy Ryan, was originally published by magazine on May 18, 1997. Part of a collective portfolio assigned by Ryan and intended to convey the signage of Times Square in a new and awe-inspiring way, this example of Morell's celebrated camera-obscura images had already been planned when Morell received Ryan's call. He was delighted to take on the assignment because it was a chance to photograph a more complex scene, but he also admits to being frightened by the chaos. Even with his reservations about whether or not the photograph would be overwhelming, he found the challenge thrilling.


Setting up at the Marriott Hotel, Morell covered the room’s window with black plastic, in which he cut a hole about 3/8 of an inch to let in light. Unlike any other camera obscura image, Camera Obscura Image of Times Square in Hotel Room is unique because of the lack of available light. Consequently, the exposure took two full days to create and is the longest exposure that Morell has ever made. Acting as an omnipotent eye from above, Morell is able to provide a reflection of New York City life, showing that order does exist despite the chaos on the infamous city sidewalks—it is just a matter of perspective. 


Abelardo Morell (b. Havana, Cuba, 1948) earned his BFA from Bowdoin College in 1977 and his MFA from Yale University in 1981. He was a recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 1993. He spent the majority of his career as a teacher at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, but recently resigned in 2010 so he could dedicate more time to his art. Morell lives in Boston, Massachusetts.