Enigmatic Portraits: Tal Shpanzter Photography

© Tal Shpanzter

Tal Shpanzter’s photography is ethereal and mysterious. Longtime Greenpoint resident, the photographer uses the neighborhood as an inspiration board for portraits, landscapes, and the human figure. From dreamy stills to mysterious-but-menacing photo essays, her talent is deep.

What drew me to Tal’s work is part of her artist statement: “being drawn to work that is yet undefined.” I, too, am drawn to those secret or developing moments. A small, pure piece that blossoms into something other worldly.

© Tal Shpanzter


GP: What inspires you?

Tal: I am inspired by urban reality and the impact and challenge of urban life on the individual. I am drawn to the creative cross-pollination of the early Dada movement – to the works of artist Anna Höch. I am also inspired by collaboration in the creative process and regularly work together with artists of different mediums to explore new approaches. 

GP: Much of your work displays a raw, genuine look at the human subject. What intrigues you about documenting portraits? How do these people influence your art?

Tal: I like to communicate, reveal and explore darker states of being in my personal photo work: I love it when a simple raw and unpretentious moment can reveal complexities, evoke imagined histories, and hidden truths. I am always truly intrigued when a dialog emerges from what appears to be the simplest of moments from states of uncertainty and transience.

© Tal Shpanzter

GP: How did you end up in Greenpoint?

Tal: They captivate and inspire me, I love discovering and learning from unique and talented people, each revealing a personal beauty or extreme state of being: innocence, wisdom, inner power, fragility or strength, sensuality, sadness, pain, fear, surrender… and this hopefully translates into my photo work.  

© Tal Shpanzter

GP: How does the neighborhood impact your work?

Tal: I moved to New York from Prague. I was in Bushwick first, when there were packs of wild dogs running around our industrial factory lofts. I looked for my own raw space and found my studio/loft in Greenpoint on Commercial Street, 10-12 years ago.  I had a few artist friends that had moved to Greenpoint, Williamsburg Bushwick, and I was curious. I loved the edgy Greenpoint of those days. It’s been interesting to be a part of and see the extreme change over these 10 years. 

© Tal Shpanzter

GP: What is your creative process?

Tal: My studio and home is in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. By living in the neighborhood, I have been able to make connections and collaborate with local artists, designers and boutique owners such as Dalaga, Alter, Alluvium House, Pencil Factory, and shoot multiple Campaigns for Hayden Harnett, and Bent On Learning. Also, all of our ObscureObject films are shot in and inspired by our life in Greenpoint. More so, it was great experience to join Greenpointers spring market and discover, see what other Greenpointers are working on. 

© Tal Shpanzter

GP: You’ve lived in the neighborhood for ten years. What are some of your favorite hang outs?

Tal: Cafecito Bogota, Champion,  ETC, Polonia, Milk & Roses, Glasserie, Peter Pan, Ovenly, Creek & Cave. 

© Tal Shpanzter

About Stephanie

Stephanie is a poet & pathological daydreamer. Her book Waiting For the End of the World is forthcoming from Bottlecap Press (2017).