Barbara E. Leven Photography

© Copyright 2018 Barbara E. Leven. All rights reserved.


After the shattering events of 9/11, I felt the need to photograph the streets of New York City where I was born and raised. These images, made with a digital camera, are predominantly close-ups of abandoned buildings, walls covered in graffiti, rusted metal, peeling paint, and dilapidated fences. These decaying structures called out to me. I was fascinated by the way neglect and exposure to the elements transformed intact and integrated structures into separate decaying elements. Like all things organic, man-made constructions obey the same life cycle of birth, growth, maturity, decline and death. Traveling along the same time/space continuum by forces seen and unseen as everything in our universe, all things organic and inorganic alike interact with and upon each other, creating uniqueness both beautiful and hideous at each interval.

For several months I focused on windows as I found them on the streets; in sunlight or in shade, wet or dry, damaged, broken or whole, covered or uncovered, dirty or clean, with light behind or without, composed of glass bricks or single panes; all mysterious by what they elusively revealed hidden in their depths. The glass either reflected my literal perception of the world around me, or exposed those metaphors concealed deep within my unconscious mind. I wandered the neighborhoods searching out those things we pass by and usually never notice thousands of times a day. I looked for the beautiful hidden beneath the façade and the message in the peeling paint. Taken together these photographs show a magnified detail of the richness and complexity of inorganic life cropped from the larger image of the living city.


I began to photograph nature in 2005, when I journeyed to New York City's botanical gardens armed with a camera and a macro lens. Since that time, in gardens and wilder places, nature has become a major theme in my work.

Photographing throughout the seasons, in heat and cold, in early morning and late afternoon, on hard sunlit days and softer cloudy days, in greenhouses and outdoors, the differing phases of each plant in its relationship to weather, the environment and its own inner clock becomes more evident. Through the lens I seek to unlock some secret the subject holds in its evolution — the ascent to flowering maturity and the moment of fruiting perfection, as well as the descent into seed and decay from which birth will begin anew. Aided by the viewfinder I desire to discover and record something I have not seen before, so that I might more fully understand in a spiritual sense the beauty and significance of each cycle of life of which I too am a part.