An already well-established author, Hayes recently picked up street photography as a means of navigating the city, grieving, and finding connection with his new home in New York. The resulting portraits are arresting in their tender candidness, creating unique snapshots of the city's full range of vitality.

All works courtesy of the artist and Steven Kasher Gallery.


Theresa and Ciáran

Archival pigment print
16 x 18 1/2 in. (image), 25 1/2 x 31 in. (frame)
Ed. of 7

How NEw York Breaks Your HEart

Archival pigment print
28 x 35 in. (image), 32 x 36 in. (paper)
Ed. of 7

Man in a Red suit

Archival pigment print
9 3/4 x 13 in. (image), 11 x 14 in. (paper)
Ed. of 7


From the artist:

"Street photography is a good description. But I never set out to ‘be’ something, or act in some ‘way,’ particularly with a camera. Instead, my taking up a camera and exploring New York came from a combination of natural curiosity, intense loneliness and simple joy in what I was discovering and seeing. And a desire to create pictures, something which I had wanted to do for a long, long time. . . . When I moved to New York City in 2009 is when I seriously began photographing. I had bought a camera in 2007 in San Francisco and did a little bit there, but San Francisco doesn’t have the kind of street life that we have here. But when I moved here I almost immediately went out and started taking the kind of photographs that I still take today and that are in How New York Breaks Your Heart." 

- Interview by Peter Stamelman for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 2018



The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction, Bill Hayes is a frequent contributor to the New York Times and the author of four books: Sleep DemonsFive QuartsThe Anatomist; and Insomniac City: New York, Oliver Sacks, and Me.  His writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Review of Books, the New York Times “T” Style MagazineBuzzFeed, and The Guardian.

Hayes is also a photographer, with credits including The New YorkerVanity Fair, and the New York Times.  His portraits of his partner, the late Oliver Sacks, appear in the volume of Dr. Sacks’s suite of final essays Gratitude.  A collection of his street photography, How New York Breaks Your Heart, was recently published by Bloomsbury.  His photography is represented by the Steven Kasher Gallery, where the first exhibition of his photographs was held in early 2018.  His work was also included in “The Photography Show,” presented by The Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD), New York City.

Hayes has lectured at NYU, UCSF, and University of Virginia, and has appeared at the Sydney Writers Festival, the 92nd Street Y, the Times of India (Mumbai) LitFest, and other venues. He serves as the Creative Director of the Oliver Sacks Foundation and as a co-editor of Dr. Sacks’ posthumously published work (Gratitude and The River of Consciousness). Hayes, 57, lives in New York City and is currently at work on a book in which he explores the history of exercise (Bloomsbury, 2020).