Since moving to New York in 2003, fashion photographer Lee O’Connor has assisted Bruce Weber, been mentored by Glen Luchford, and shot for magazines like Oyster, Harper’s Bazaar, and Paper. Her latest project is anthropological in nature: Since 2009, she’s been fascinated with young, eccentric women living in New York.
O’Connor says she was inspired to start photographing uniquely styled women she encountered on the New York City streets and subway after revisiting a copy of German documentary photographer August Sander’s Face of Our Time, a documentation of the Weimar Republic through a diverse collection of portraits of citizens. Inspired by that portrait of society, she began working on a similar series. “I set out to record a specific demographic of my era: young, artistic, entrepreneurial women living in New York City,” O’Connor writes in the introduction of her recently published book, Birds of Paradise.
Over the past five years, she’s made studio portraits of women she approached on the street, asking them to dress in the clothes they felt best expressed their personality. The resulting book provides a look at the women who caught O’Connor’s eye. Click through the slideshow to see the series.