See the World through the Lens of ‘Instagram Activist’ Ruddy Roye

The photographer talks about his passion for documenting the underserved in Brooklyn and beyond

“The painter constructs; the photographer discloses,” Susan Sontag once said. In many ways, this is at the heart of the photographs taken by Radcliffe “Ruddy” Roye. The now Brooklyn-based photographer got his start in Jamaica as a photojournalist before moving to New York where he picked up a job with the Associated Press. His work has appeared in print publication such as Ebony and Jet, but his mission and life’s work is to document life on the streets, from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, to his home country of Jamaica. As such, he focuses his lens (and cellphone) on the people whose stories have been forgotten, overlooked, cast aside — everyone from New Yorkers surviving Hurricane Sandy to the denizens of underground dancehalls in Jamaica for Vogue.

What has propelled Roye into the limelight is his most recent canvas, Instagram, where as RuddyRoye he is one of the photo sharing site’s rising stars. There his pictures are eagerly viewed by tens of thousands of followers (he’s at more than 45,000 as of publication) who see New York City through his trained eye. Indeed, The New York Times chronicled Roye’s rise to fame in June 2013 under the headline “Bringing invisible stories to Instagram,” which is also how the photographer sees his own art. “Social justice is the subject of my work,” says Roye in this New York Moment, where he walks us through the streets of his Bed-Stuy neighborhood, smartphone in hand, carefully composing photos and capturing the complexity of life along the way. Ruddy’s goal, ultimately, is a simple one: “I hope that I make a difference.”

Our New York Moment series is a film journey that explores the unexpected moments that add up to the world’s greatest city. From the first man to illustrate a New Yorker magazine cover on an iPad to a musician who turns Times Square into his stage every day, see what makes the city tick through the eyes of the fascinating folks who live here. Click to see more.

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