Manhattan Straight Up
Raygun Gothic Spaceship San Francisco

Kids do it all the time—lying on the grass, looking to the sky and visualizing shapes in the clouds. As adults, we don’t often have this luxury of time, and if we do, it’s rarely spent on our backs in grassy fields. Our time is in urban environments with a type of tunnel vision traveling from point A to point B, driving, taking a metro, walking quickly, staring straight ahead avoiding others, or looking down at our smartphones, papers or pavement. This collection, titled Straight Up plays homage to the kid lying in the grass except in this case looking straight up in city environments.


Every city in the world has a unique skyline defined by its architecture and landscape. Photographing these cities with the camera leveled and pointed straight up, provides a way to compare them. The resulting images show open spaces between buildings, lamp posts, street signs, trees, etc., and create unique shapes. These shapes repeat, subtly change, and create a cadence of visual forms, familiar yet distinct for each city. Grouping these images together forms a type of language—a spatial fingerprint—that reflect the history, culture, economics, and needs of the city reflected in its built environment. Each city is photographed in the same manner and as the viewpoints are exactly the same, images within and between cities are easily compared. It’s a microcosm of the familiar skyline, accessible to anyone who stops, looks up, and takes note.
The concept for Straight Up, born in New York City, has now grown to encompass twenty-four cities in thirteen countries. New images are posted in the blog section of the site demonstrating this concept further. Images presented in the portfolio link above are selects for certain cities which represent a quick but small selection of this entire body of work.

Cameron Neilson started his photography career at an early age in Portland, Oregon, watching his dad make prints in a home color darkroom. By the age of ten Neilson was processing his own film and making prints. Early in his freelance career, Neilson learned the intricacies of portrait, fashion, and product photography. After college, Neilson moved to Jackson Hole, WY where his commercial work gained global recognition for architecture photography. In 2008, Neilson moved his photography studio to New York. Neilson continues to focus on architecture and commercial photography which cab be seen at  If you are looking for Neilson’s Yellowstone Abstract landscape photography series, please click here.

Thank you for visiting. Please enjoy and keep updated on new cities as they are added on Twitter @straightupphoto. For more information on purchasing prints or images, please contact Cameron at [email protected]

Cameron R Neilson