In pictures: Matthew Weinberger captures 2024 nightlife in NYC

In pictures: Matthew Weinberger captures 2024 nightlife in NYC

The 24-year-old photographer discusses his background, shooting from the hip and why generations continue to flock to New York City

As a native of the world’s creative capital, 24-year-old Upper East Side-born photographer Matthew Weinberger has had his eye on his city since a young age. After an unfortunate bus accident in the 11th grade destroyed his Lacrosse dreams and left him with three broken vertebrae, his mother signed him up for teen classes at the International Centre of Photography in downtown Manhattan. Throughout that summer, he was introduced to the world of black-and-white film photography, igniting a newfound passion for documenting life through film.

During his time at university in Madison, Wisconsin, he got involved in the local indie music scene and began photographing gigs and events at the numerous student venues in the city. After graduating during the pandemic, he returned to New York and eventually found his own pocket of the city. Noting the importance of being “a part of the scene you want to document”, Weinberger has since become a notable name on the New York scene – capturing local creative peers, as well as the likes of Julia Fox, Emily Ratajkowski and Chance the Rapper. 

His latest mini-series, 2024 NYC Cultural Lift Off, comprises images from impromptu nights out from the first few weeks of this year, and comes from a wider selection he is collating in the hopes of documenting youth culture and nightlife throughout the 2020s. “There are so many cross-sections which make it special,” he tells Dazed. “The nightlife world and the worlds of theatre, literature, film and music are not separated – nightlife brings everyone together.“

Below, Weinberger speaks about his photography style, why young people continue to find themselves in New York, and photographing the next generation of innovative creatives.

How would you describe your photography style? 

Matthew Weinberger: I think shooting from the hip is important. Taking your shot without being afraid of rejection and capturing as much as you can. It’s about having this ability to shoot more than just what you see. Shooting with your eyes is one thing, but half of it is also shooting with your ears. I’m always listening to who is laughing, screaming and what’s going on. Part of capturing the moment is about taking this bird’s eye view of everything and trying to see the space beyond just what’s right in front of you. 

Do you find people are receptive to having their pictures taken on a night out?

Matthew Weinberger: Most people are really excited to be photographed by me, especially recently as people on the New York scene get to know my work. Even the few times people aren’t super stoked about it, usually they’re not familiar with me or my work. Once they see it, they say ‘oh wait, can you actually send me that?’

How do you find events to go to in NYC? Do you go with the intention of taking pictures, or do you just capture life as it happens?

Matthew Weinberger: I am a person who is at the party, who happens to be taking photos. Generally, when I roll up to an event, I’m coming with a small point-and-shoot camera. I like getting into the thick of it. I have some buddies who are incredibly talented photographers and they like to take a step back and be a fly on the wall. I want to be involved in a big way. If there’s a mosh happening, I’m getting in there. As I’m bumping into people I’m flashing, having the best time ever. You have got to make the world you want to see, so I like to always bring the energy. 

For generations, creatives have flocked to New York to set up camp. What is it about New York that keeps young people coming back?

Matthew Weinberger: What makes New York so special is all the people coming in from all over the world. We get this huge talent draw which is super exciting. A lot of my most talented friends were not born and raised in New York. I happen to be from here, but I think a lot of the people doing the most exciting things came here actively trying to strut their stuff and do something bigger than themselves. My mom’s one of those people: she’s from Peru, and she came to the US for a better life, to have a career that she wouldn’t necessarily have been able to have.

We often look back at the creative scene during the 60s and 70s in NYC. What do you think this time will be remembered for?

Matthew Weinberger: History is completely manufactured. The reality is that, all through time, wherever you went, cool people were doing cool things. The distinction is between what is documented and how is it curated. As a kid in New York, I was enamoured by times of the past. I always thought how cool it would be to have been around for CBGB and to see all these great bands like Blondie, Talking Heads, The Ramones, and The Velvet Underground playing in just a small venue. I would look at Studio 54 and imagine partying with all the rock stars and disco queens who went there, or even Warhol’s factory, or with Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, all these legends. 

That part of the art scene was cool to me and very aspirational. I think we’re living through it again today. What I want to do is document as much as I can. Who am I to say who’s going to be the next Velvet Underground or who’s going to be Warhol? I don’t know, but what I do know is that I’m around a lot of exciting things and I’d like to capture them. Time will tell.

What do you hope people take away from your images?

Matthew Weinberger: I think ultimately I hope that the images inspire people to take part in exciting things. I’d hope that if you’re sitting at home scrolling on Instagram and you see a bunch of people at an exciting party, play or concert, you might want to get out there and go as well. I want the photos to get people out of the house, making things and feeling inspired.

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