PORTLAND, Maine — Nicholas Gervin, 34, starts making pictures when most people are hitting the sack.

The Portland photographer hits the darkened streets on his bicycle not long before the bars close. He wears a small camera around his neck and clutches a cup of coffee. An earphone attached to a police scanner app on his smartphone protrudes from one side of his head.

“People make photographs of things they think are beautiful,” said Gervin. “And I’m no different in that sense.”

Except Gervin is known best for his stark, black and white photos of people getting arrested, falling down drunk and using drugs.

“Just maybe, my idea of what beauty is, is slightly different,” he said. “I find the subjects I make photographs of beautiful.”

Gervin, who grew up on Munjoy Hill, has spent the last few years observing and preserving the gritty beauty he finds in the harsh light of his camera flash. He hopes to someday gather enough material for a book.

Gervin is showing his work in a gallery for the first time in a show at the Acoustic Artisans studio in the Hay Building on Congress Street called “The City: Photographs of Portland, Maine.”

The show opens Friday and runs through the end of June and also features the work of six other Portland photographers: John Duncan, Liz Bieber, Jonathan Cooper, Corey Templeton, Ben McCanna and Benzo Harris.

Gervin hopes his photos shed light on a city that’s more complicated and full of more colorful characters than can be seen at first glance, in the daytime.

“It isn’t just tourists and restaurants and bars,” he said.

Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.