The lights of New York City nights

Todd Leopold, CNNUpdated 15th June 2015
(CNN) — If Paris is the City of Light, then New York is the city of lights.
In the Big Apple, they come in all sizes and all colors: HIDs and LEDs, Landlord's Haloes and expansive spotlights. They outline the Empire State Building and permeate Times Square.
New York may have competition -- Tokyo and Las Vegas have their own parades of illumination -- but "the city that never sleeps" is in a league of its own when it comes to keeping you awake.
Photographer Franck Bohbot, a native of the Paris area, is captivated by the lights of New York. However, it wasn't the gaudy colors of Times Square that attracted the 35-year-old Brooklyn resident. It was the quiet street corners and lonely marquees of the naked city.
"When I moved to New York City in 2013, I started to walk late at night," he said in an email. "I very quickly became fascinated and (determined) to create a series of pictures at night with the everyday places where the people used to go in general: restaurants, bars, theaters, peep shows, cinemas, delis, shops, clubs.
Photographer Franck Bohbot
Photographer Franck Bohbot
Franck Bohbot
"It is," he added, "the streets."
His photographs have been turned into a series, "Light On," which he shot from 2013 until this year.
Some of the sights are familiar. One shot features the art-deco Radio City Music Hall, which dates to 1932. Another features Harlem's Apollo Theater, which opened in 1934. They remain grand throwbacks to the city's past, though Bohbot has shot both among deserted sidewalks, giving them a slightly haunted feeling.
Perhaps more intriguing, however, are the smaller establishments. A lonely cross looms over a street in Manhattan's Alphabet City neighborhood. On the opposite side of Manhattan, a liquor store advertises its wares in Tribeca.
And then there's Greenwich Village's Cafe Wha?, a landmark best known for hosting Bob Dylan and the Velvet Underground in the 1960s. Today it's a thriving rock club, but through Bohbot's lens the venue -- shot amid icy sidewalks and plowed snow -- suggests the scruffy music den it once was.
"I just try to have a pictorial approach and make these photos like they were from movie stills," he said.
Among his references are film director Martin Scorsese and painter Edward Hopper, the latter known for such austere paintings as "Nighthawks" and "Automat."
Bohbot said the emptiness in his images is deliberate. It makes the photos more dramatic, almost literally so.
"I started to have photographs empty of people," he said, though in some cases figures would step into the frame. "A little bit of patience was important to control the frame and composition. Framing, waiting, contemplating and documenting, too.
"I want to be at the limit of fiction and reality."
There you'll find millions of stories -- one for every light in New York City.