Perhaps due to the wide array of lenses, the weight of my camera or the size of the bag I carry them around with. I have been getting into the habit of leaving it all at home. Leaving me dependent on my iPhone or jotting down the addresses in the hope that one day, I’ll make my triumphant return with my camera loaded, charged and ready to go. Did I fail to mention the look I get from my wife whenever she finds me packing up my gear when we’re preparing to go out? Or her “We’re just going out for breakfast. Why are you bringing your your camera?” The best answer to that question should always be the classic “It’s better to have it and not need it. Than to need it and not have it.” and to quote the great Forrest Gump. “That’s all I have to say about that.”
As someone who’s always been in love with photography. I often find myself enamored with the styles and techniques I myself have yet to learn. With long exposures and night photography being a long time personal inspiration of mine. I felt extremely thankful when a friend and fellow photographer shared some easily applicable information with me. Being one who tends to crave the company of others as well as subjects to photograph. Time has taught me that time alone, solitude and the peace it often provides offer me more time to learn and grow. Something that almost immediately presents itself when working with long exposures Having only experimented with the concept on occasion over the last couple of weeks. I quickly realized the therapeutic rewards of these rare moments. As I stood there. The only time I really felt the least bit uneasy was when friendly neighbors stopped for a moment to say hello or if you’d believe it, to talk shop about gear. That hour or so where it was just me, my Canon 5D Mark III and my tripod was all the meditation one could ask for.
As the cars sped by on both sides of the concrete divider. I couldn’t help but think back to my earliest days on the Bowery standing just outside of CBGB’s. That short, yet treacherous dash from the curb of CBGB’S to the Bodega across the street was almost as risky as jumping in to a pit of raging fists occupying the real estate in front of the clubs stage. And just as I witnessed many enthusiastic participants knocked to the clubs floor. The number of pedestrians who never made it all the way across were enough to make one question how important that cold beverage really was.
Yet just as i left the nights event a few blocks south of my original haunt. I found myself setting up my tripod on that narrow slither of concrete known to many as a pedestrian divider. Having just recently been properly introduced to shooting long exposures. I was more than inspired to take what I’d learned to the busy streets of lower Manhattan.Crouching down, I quickly assembled my tripod and set it on manual. Waiting for the lens to close and complete the shot. I could feel the wind from the passing automobiles pushing me off my already unbalanced heels. Lucky for me. One shot, the one you see here, was all I needed. Using the little brains I seem to have left. I moved back to the sidewalk and on to Houston street to capture a few more shots before I headed home.
As we were celebrating my brother’s 21st birthday over a couple of tasty lobsters yesterday. I wanted to share with him the little wisdom I still had to offer. For the most part, we talked about school and the new baby our other brother had welcomed into the world just a day earlier. Though I wanted to speak as few words as possible and listen to the words of someone in the throes of becoming a unique and very intelligent adult. He seemed more interested in the city I grew up in years before he was born. My brother’s curiosity and curious nature had me on the hot seat.
Speaking in the most positive way this old coot could muster. I explained that much of the city I grew up in was gone. Yet my own personal experiences and stories kept it alive in my heart. How, while the drastic changes to the both the cities landscape and overall chemistry did not appeal to me. There was no reason they should deter him from finding his favorite corners, nooks and destinations. Change is inevitable and an integral part in our growth process. Without movement and change, we become stagnant. For me, or anyone else for that matter, to expect things to remain the same would not only be selfish. It would be downright foolish. And as much as I find myself shaking my fists at tourists and the franchises that have replaced many of my old haunts. I’m finding new and exciting things that appeal to my senses.Later that day, just blocks from the Bleeker St. corner where we enjoyed our meal. I came upon some pretty eye-popping street art. A convenient reminder how change brings possibilities. As I get older, I’m coming to realize it is not healthy to live in the past or worry about the future. To live in the moment. To enjoy the now. That’s my happy place.
Our usual route through the city starts at World Trade Center. The stop is a short walk to Chinatown where we usually stop for Dim Sum and some bakery hopping. From there we usually make our way uptown making numerous stops on the way towards the Union Square area where we eventually catch a PATH train home. Making pit stops at Columbus Park (Chinatown) Washington Square Park (The Village) and Union Square (W. Village, Gramercy, Chelsea borders) always serve to nourish and refuel both body and spirit. A visit to any and all of the beautiful parks New York City and its outer boroughs have to offer is a guaranteed free entry to what is still one of the most vibrant and artful cities in the world. I’ve always said, “If you’re ever lacking motivation or inspiration in you work. Go for a walk in the city.” Try it. It might just do you some good.
In my last post “Sometimes it’s better to go it alone.” Here. I mentioned going it alone when operating as a street photographer. While that thread may ring true in many cases. It can’t go without saying that she is both my greatest inspiration and a damn good lookout and second set of eyes. Often watching my back when I’m shooting in more risky areas. While also serving as a second set of eyes when it comes to security related entities.
Where as today was scheduled to be a very laid back day with a short trip to Ikea for an area rug. We spent much of our day exploring much of Newark, Elizabeth and Harrison. While not dangerous by any means. Select areas might have been a bit private and or restricted. So to my wife, a hearty thanks for being my lookout when it came to shooting and our late lunch in East Newark. I really enjoyed sharing a seat at the counter and getting to know some of the regulars.
As much as I love my wife, family and small circle of friends. I find that when it comes to certain things. It’s best to go it alone. And as much as my wife inspires and supports my love of all of the different aspects of what I shoot. She is without a doubt “The worst case scenario’s” most vocal advocate. So much so that I’d sometimes leave certain excursions as well as elements of my work to my own special me time. For, after an hour or so of “What if we’re trespassing?” “Are you sure we can go here?” “What if we get a ticket?” or the best one of all “What if he kills one of us?” I’m ready to trade in my camera for a book on bird watching. While it’s often a good thing to have a second set of eyes. Sometimes the additional voice in you ear is enough to make you want to go it alone.