New York is the greatest city in the world. It's also covered in garbage.

At one point or another, every out-of-towner utters the same sentiment.

“I love it here...but why is there so much garbage?”

It’s amazing how we’ve become blind to the massive amounts of trash that line our streets. It was years before I even notice how insane it is for a girl in $800 heels step over a pile of garbage as she walks into the city’s trendiest club. Furthermore, I trained myself to flat-out ignore the bag lady rummaging through that very pile hours later, looking for the same girl’s discared $12 beer as part of her bounty of five and ten cent deposits. New Yorkers are the fish who can’t see they’re in water. 

Then, one day, I started to photograph it. I began taking loving portraits of the discarded waste—and realized something. Garbage is the negative space of our culture—it’s where we were and what we did. Trash is the grimy fossil of moments that passed. And it tells a story. Some stories capture the rythm of the city, some imply mysteries we’ll never solve. Some capture the character of a neighborhood, or the disparity that exists within it. And some remind you of the vibrancy of the city we love—and why we put up with the filth. It’s all there, written in the soiled tea leaves. 

People love The Human’s of New York. Well, this is their garbage. And in many ways, trash is far more honest narrator than the people who threw it away.

Follow the story on Instagram at @TrashNYC.