TIME Profile

Richard Sandler’s 80s: When Greed was Good

New York City street photographer Richard Sandler was handed a Leica in 1977—it all changed from there. His photographs of New York City tapped directly into the pulse of the 80s.

New York City street photographer Richard Sandler was handed a Leica in 1977, a simple action that changed the vector of his life. He began photographing the streets of New York, tapping into the pulse of the 80s. “You are recording your time,” says Sandler. “You are looking for trends. If you are in the street, you see it. You see everything on the street.” From his 5th avenue furs to the graffiti strewn subways, Sandler brings the grit and the glamor of the Reagan era to the surface.

You won’t see Sandler on the streets much anymore. He feels cell phones have robbed photographers of their subjects. “There is nothing more boring, nothing more nondescript and vacant than a person on a cell phone walking down the street. They seem to be out of the game,” Sandler says. “People are walking around in bubbles.”

These days you will find Sandler making films—a medium he finds infinitely easier than still photography. His Gods of Times Square won critical praise is 2000. Sandler is currently working on a documentary about the history of Martha’s Vineyard.

More work from Richard Sandler is available on his website.

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