Viewfinder | The Stage Is Set

Leonardo Mendez on using photography to find stories with a life of their own.


“My father used to tell my brother and I bedtime stories. Though often lighthearted and warm, we also endured our share of mythology and Tolstoy. What does a child know of Tolstoy! Nonetheless, he was an actor, and he told them so well, that I lived them very vividly in my mind. I photograph, therefore, because I am in a constant search for more stories to live — either through the curvature of the lens, or the lips of an actor.”


“I waited behind this little girl for several seconds as she observed the painting in the background. When she turned to me, I took the picture. In the East Village, self-expression is queen!”

east village, nyc

“When a local vogues himself into different fighting positions on a Second Avenue sidewalk, it’s a good sign summer has come to the neighborhood.”

ICP, new york city

“Sometimes we are so focused on what’s in front of us that we don’t realize how perfectly framed we are in the world around us.”


“The rules of photography are flexible, but it’s important to remember the basics. When I take a photo, no matter how quickly I must ACT, my main focus is composition.”


“It felt as if I was given a gift when capturing the quiet backstage passion between these two performers at the Howl Festival.”


“When the attendant at the merry-go-round says everyone will get their chance to ride… EVERYONE will get their chance — whether they like it or not!”


“Sometimes a zoom lens can tell a better story than the big picture. Here, Flotilla’s intensity as she inspects Sade’s wardrobe malfunction during a performance, kept my full attention.”


“After the last poet read the last word of Ginsberg’s poem on stage, it was obvious to me, that the audience would go home different persons than how they came. Indeed, in the East Village, no one goes home the same as they came.”

Leonardo Mendez is community contributor to The Local East Village. His photography can be seen here.