For photographers, there’s nowhere in the world quite like New York City. A mess of metal and people, shifting and weaving through the streets. It’s where many of the world’s best and brightest street photographers—Diane Arbus, Bill Cunningham, Garry Winogrand—made their name years ago.

It’s also where many are coming up in the field. Jorge Garcia, a local freelance photographer, started the NYC Street Photography Collective in 2015. “I wanted to build an offline community that would critique work, share ideas, books, experiences, and anything else that could help us be better street shooters,” he told Explore Parts Unknown’s Cengiz Yar. Today the group’s 22 members host regular workshops and publish their own zines. They sent us some of their members’ favorite images from the neighborhood.

“LES for me still has some of that old-school NYC grit. Whenever I get bored of working the corners of midtown, I will head downtown to help remind me that NYC still has some of its flavor left.”—Jorge Garcia, 34, founded NYC-SPC in February 2015

“I wander the streets of LES whenever I’m feeling drained when I’m painting at my studio. There’s always something of interest around the corner, whether it be a desirable piece of trash or a flock of pigeons to photograph. It’s never been a place where I can’t finish a roll.”

Cat Byrnes, 24, NYC-SPC member since 2017

“LES has the serious grit and loads of personalities to photograph. It’s true that there’s plenty of young Google employees paying insane rent, but walk through Tompkins Square Park late at night and you’ll see another side of NYC.”—Josh Ethan Johnson, 39, NYC-SPC member since 2016

“Shooting in the LES has always been one of my favorite routes since I started shooting street. It’s just a vibrant and diverse neighborhood.”—Laura Fontaine, 44, NYC-SPC member since 2015

“For me street photography is an opportunity to feel closer to my surroundings. When I want to better understand a neighborhood, I shoot it. The Lower East Side is a mixture of old and new. A melting pot of cultures. It’s pure New York. That’s why I love the neighborhood.”—Steven Davis, 29, NYC-SPC member since 2016