Something special happens at night. It is when the harsh realities of the day are washed away, and the shadows allow your imagination to run free. Actuality is replaced by emotion, your mind plays tricks. Sometimes you like that, others you don’t. For dreamers, though, the night allows a freedom that the starkness of daylight robs you of; creativity can breed under the cover of darkness.
Daniel Soares is a dreamer, he is one of us; we who can’t help but attach ourselves to the potential stories of strangers, captured by the fleeting flashes of narrative that fall from an act as simple as buying cigarettes. ‘What are they going in the store for?’ he asks. ‘What are they buying, what is their life like?’ Questions bred by the night and a neon haze. It’s that haze and those unanswerable questions that have stoked the fire under the Portuguese filmmaker’s photo series, Neon Nights.
Fuelled by what he calls a ‘love-affair with New York and its nocturnal lights,’ the creative’s disquieting document of a frenetic city in its languid hours are a photographic rendering of the unease and loneliness captured so iconically in Edward Hopper’s American masterpiece, Nighthawks. Like the questions we’ve all posed about those smartly-dressed diners, our curiosity cannot be contained — what is happening at the door of that deli? It’s our inability to ever answer such doubts that makes images like these all the more alluring. They appeal to our dark-fall dreamer, the romantics who treasure the shadows.
‘By day, New York can be overwhelming, dirty and loud,’ Soares explains. ‘But at night, it morphs into this fairytale of neon lights where time seems to stand still.’ In Neon Nights, the photographer’s fairytales, our fairytales, will stand still forever.