Throughout Dr. Martens history our boots and shoes have been worn by an eclectic mix of people, who have fought for and celebrated their individuality. #WORNDIFFERENT NYC is a project bringing together NYC-based artists and makers from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines to celebrate self-expression with a clash of art and music.
Photographer Jessica Lehrman‘s pictures aren’t just images, they’re stories. We met up with Jessica to take some photos and talk photography and life in NYC.
Where are you from?
I moved so much growing up that I don’t really resonate with any of those places, or feel like I could claim them as my home. Colorado is where I spent my teenage years and have the most memories of firsts in life. Right now, I live in Fort Greene, Brooklyn with my boyfriend, a block away from Fort Greene Park. I love it. I came to the East Coast for college at SUNY Purchase. It was an incredible experience and I learned so much. My junior year, I decided to move to NYC and pursue photography full-time instead of going back to school. I’ve been here for seven years now.
What’s your favorite neighborhood and why?
Chinatown. There’s something about the chaos of colors and smells and people that I find incredibly comforting. There’s always a restaurant open regardless of the time or weather advisories. It feels magical, spontaneous, full of life, and empty of judgment.
What’s your favorite thing about living in New York?
I moved here from a town with no stop lights and three restaurants, so my favorite thing is having every kind of food imaginable around me at all times. It still dumbfounds me that this sort of voodoo is possible.
What do you do?
I’m a documentary photographer; I got into it by accident. As a teenager, I didn’t get into a painting program and ended up in an intensive photo program instead. I became completely hooked. The first time I developed a roll of film, I knew I wanted to make this my life. I came out of the darkroom screaming about real life magic and “what kind of sorcery could cause such things to appear?” After that, I was instantly enchanted into the world of photography.
What inspires you?
My family, my friends, and Patti Smith.
How does New York influence you and your work?
Most of my work as an adult has been very much about NYC and subcultures specific to this place. I think as a documentarian, your location is everything. I’m not an artist creating worlds; I’m focused on documenting the one around me. NYC has been my world for so long, that I can’t imagine pulling apart the strings of influence; it’s all sewn so tightly together.
If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?
The first thing that comes to my mind is making a video for Alanis Morrisette in her angrier days, so let’s go with that.
Tell us about a memorable New York moment that happened to you.
The day after [Hurricane] Sandy hit, I walked into Manhattan from Brooklyn. I spent the entire day walking through the city to check on all my friends that lived along the flooded areas. Luckily, no one I saw had been hit by the water rising but there was a loss of power. It was the most surreal experience; no cars, no real sound at all except people talking. Our cell phones weren’t working so everyone was outside their houses, sharing food from their fridges, meeting strangers that all lived on the same block, helping each other with flashlights and camp stoves; so many stories were shared and new friends were made.
How would you describe your personal style?
Country midwestern, ’90s goth, tactical gear, and hunter/fisher. “Between a rock and a hard place?”
What comes to mind when you hear Dr. Martens?
Badass punk girls with mohawks and big tall boots smoking cigarettes in a London alley.
Tell us about your first pair of Dr. Martens.
They were white, although you can’t tell anymore. I got them at a thrift store and wore them every day for years and planned my outfits to match them. Once, I was in this commercial and had to look “cute.” I wore them to the shoot at this incredibly muddy music festival and they asked if they could replace them with some newer looking boots. I was so appalled that they weren’t into the dirty, hardcore look I had been developing, so I refused.
What do you want to be remembered for?
Being an amazing friend and family member and making great things about great people.
Without giving too much away, what are you working on for Worn Different NYC?
A story you can take home with you.