If there’s one thing most New Yorkers find impossible, it’s slowing down. For his City Stages series, photographer Matthew Pillsbury imposes a hushed calm on normally busy settings, shooting hour-length exposures with a large format 8 X 10 view camera. The effect isn’t just lovely to look at; it also belies a deeper meaning. “The ghostlike appearance of my subjects wasn’t something I set out to pursue,” he explained to Slate. “But I do find it fascinating to highlight the fragility, the evanescence of our lives. We are here only briefly. Every moment passing bringing us closer to our last. Much of photography is an attempt to stop the clock—to assert our presence: ‘I was here, I matter.’ Here, my photographs are doing something different: We are shown the fragility and fleeting nature of our presence.” Click through to view a selection of black-and-white images from the series.