Candid Lunchtime Portraits of Fashionable New Yorkers in the 1970s

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On the average lunch break in New York City (or any major city around the world), most people have their heads buried in an electronic device. But in the 1970s, people out and about during their break relied on the art of conversation. Between 1977 and 1980, photographer Charles H. Traub took his camera to the streets to capture New Yorkers (as well as residents in Chicago and European cities) at lunchtime.

Traub engaged them in brief conversation after a private game he played with himself, guessing the occupation of each individual. The colorful and candid shots reveal a variety of lively personalities and the photographer’s own curiosity and voyeuristic eye. “I think we’re all too homogenized now and that’s what I miss,” Traub said in an interview. “I think that’s why I’ve had a nice reaction to these pictures: Look how nice people look, how individualized they were.”

These images were recently published in a new book called Lunchtime.

©Charles Traub, published with permission

©Charles Traub, published with permission

©Charles Traub, published with permission

©Charles Traub, published with permission

©Charles Traub, published with permission

©Charles Traub, published with permission

©Charles Traub, published with permission

©Charles Traub, published with permission

©Charles Traub, published with permission

©Charles Traub, published with permission

©Charles Traub, published with permission

©Charles Traub, published with permission

©Charles Traub, published with permission

©Charles Traub, published with permission

©Charles Traub, published with permission

Lunchtime is available now in hardcover.