On Tuesday evening Featherstone Center for the Arts opened its summer series of photography salons, missing from the 2020 landscape due to the pandemic, with a photographic slide show and talk by John Rosenmiller.

Mr. Rosenmiller is a lifelong resident of New York city and a longtime seasonal resident of West Tisbury. The origins of 12-minute slide show, overlayed with audio from news clips, began after a chance encounter last spring during Covid lockdown in New York city.

Mr. Rosenmiller was out taking photographs of the nearly deserted city when a bicyclist asked him to take his picture. The man’s face was obscured by a pandemic face covering and at first Mr. Rosenmiller didn’t recognize him. But as soon as the mask came off for the photograph, the subject’s identity was unambiguous. It was Spike Lee, acclaimed director and Oak Bluffs seasonal resident.

At Mr. Lee’s request, Mr. Rosenmiller sent him copies of the photographs.

“The next day somebody calls me up and says ‘you have 50,000 hits on Spike Lee’s Instagram,’” Mr. Rosenmiller recalled.“This is my 15 minutes of fame. No one will ever see one photograph of mine more than this.”

This picture along with many others taken on the streets of New York from March through May of 2020 became Mr. Rosenmiller’s short film, City of Covid: New York During Quarantine.

Mr. Rosenmiller told Tuesday’s audience that despite living through other tumultuous times in New York city’s history, “nothing prepared” him for city life during quarantine. His photographs captured a nuanced slice of life, illustrating the pandemic’s social, economic and physical devastation as well as moments of resilience and hope.

He said the city felt more intimate during lockdown.

“You’d go out on the street, you’d see somebody, you’d talk to them,” he said. “That brought about a sense of connection with people. Everybody was much more visible.”

“I did not see many photographers out there,” he added. “There are tons of better photographers than I am… but they were not out there.”

Mr. Rosenmiller said the experience made him “a more compassionate person, a caring person more in touch with my own sense of humanity.”

He decided to include audio from news clips to fill in gaps from the lockdown that his photographs did not capture. He said that as an independent street shooter unaffiliated with a publication, he had trouble accessing certain spaces like hospitals. By including external audio, he said he aimed to provide a more complete representation of the moment.

He also limited his locations to the street-scape, passing up opportunities to photograph in subways and at airports.

“To me personally, the streets are where New York is at,” he said.

The next photographer’s salon will feature Jeremy Driesen on July 13 and Daniel Waters on July 20. The events start at 7 p.m. on the Featherstone campus. They are free and open to all.