City Seen: Introducing Nicole Crowder


During the day I work as a Photo Editor, writing essays and featuring photo stories that center on reportage and news from around the world. But my close love has always been rooted in photographing and admiring stunning photos of food, interiors, textile, flashes of colorful style, and, of course, travel. For the past few weeks I’ve been traversing from D.C. to Baltimore to New York and Charlottesville,Virginia. The photos here on City Seen reflect a few of those places and my affinity for wandering and happen upon vignettes that seem as if they’ve been waiting for me to stumble on them.

A lot of people enjoy the title “visual storyteller,” but I fancy myself just a nerd with a camera and a fondness for moments. Someone who gets excitable over seeing light fall through sheer curtains and streak across a colorful wall illuminating what is typically just an ordinary living room. A woman standing in front of light that creates a beautiful silhouette of her hair and body. Color also peppers so much of what I photograph and what I’m attracted to, but in a subtle way: A cherry red fire escape against a brick wall. Baby blue awnings popping against a Baltimore sky. I actually snapped that photo from my driver side window while driving through West Baltimore at a stoplight. The impulse to miss that photo for fear of the light changing before I could was too great, and so I hurriedly grabbed my phone from my bag and snapped two quick frames. Baltimore’s architecture is so much apart of its charm. It’s familiar yet distinct.

It’s fair to say that I’m most inspired by the technique of filmmaker Wes Anderson, whose ubiquitous use of symmetry in each of his frames has become his signature. Similarly,

I’m most drawn to clean lines and those brief moments where symmetry and color and minimalism all combine. 

 Like when I happened to walk past a building in Brooklyn this past summer, whose façade was painted in salmon pink with a beautiful vintage bike in the same color perfectly placed in front of it. Almost waiting for me to arrive for a photo. Or the time I visited on of my favorite Korean restaurant in New York’s Koreatown called Kunjip. I waited patiently for three minutes while two men were seated back to back against a wall of black lines dotted with colored glass like a mosaic.

My long-time love has been stationary and notebooks. I have over a dozen notebooks, all marked for various reasons: one for recipes, one for journaling my travels, one for my dreams, one for things I need to do each day, etc. In New York recently I visited two of my favorite places for indulging in each of these passions: Kunikoniya in Midtown (for stationary and rare Japanese magazines) and C.W. Enterprises in Chinatown for pencils. C.W. Enterprises is a tiny little shop that sells only pencils from all over the world. It’s one of those stores that defies convention as both a brick and mortar, but also because it sells a tool you would think was obsolete long ago in the digital age. And yet its novelty is exactly part of its charm that attracts so many and allows it to thrive.

Back home in D.C. I find my footing in one of my favorite vintage furniture stores, Miss Pixies. Miss Pixies sells beautiful, hand sourced vintage furniture from all over the DMV, and it’s been one of the places I source for my own furniture that I reupholster. On this particular day I visited with my friend and fellow vintage lover Erin, who was back in town for a quick visit. When she walked down an aisle of benches, looking ever so slightly to her right I asked her to stop suddenly because the light surrounding her and the pop of color were too beautiful. It was one of those moments, and I couldn’t let it pass. And for vintage clothing I love the beautifully curated store Nomad Yard on New York Avenue. Some of the most incredible clothing and vintage goods you’ll find in the city, sourced from around the world.

A little further south is Charlottesville, Virginia, my favorite quaint town to visit for weekend getaways. It’s art and design scene is so rich and deep, and murals and studios are found around every corner. I took one of these photos on my way to visit the campus of the University of Virginia and saw a great blue and green graphic mural on the wall, advertising for a yoga studio. The other photo shows paint from an artist studio, which we were able to tour.