How does one begin any kind of piece on NYC without resorting to some kind of lyrical cliche? It is all too tempting, though it is undeniably a hell of a town.
This is the third time I’ve been to New York, though despite it having been a fairly frequent destination of mine, the last visit was back in 2017 – which feels like an age ago. Whilst I am revelling in a return to some kind of travel normalcy, this kind of thing also painfully underlines the amount of time that has been stolen from all over us over the past few years.
New York City is a place that I came to relatively late – in the sense that it is a common destination for many folks; even those who aren’t necessarily ardent travellers – but one which I wasn’t ever in a rush to go to myself. However, every time I come here I end up loving it that wee bit more, and this trip has been no exception.
I was determined to make the most of the opportunity to capture more of the city on this trip, and try get back some of my photographic fervour. After all, if I could make it here, then… (okay okay sorry).
In all seriousness though, as I noted back in a blog I wrote on the first day of my first trip to NYC back in 2015, this is a city resplendent with fascinating sights. Around every corner there is something interesting happening, and I effectively forced my long suffering friend and colleague Watkis to walk the length and breadth of Manhattan in the baking heat, soaking it all up like some kind of sunburned Celtic sponge.
On this first day we walked around 22,000 steps – or almost nine miles. In all honesty it felt like it should have been far more than that, partly because we covered so much ground and saw so many different things – but it was a very effective and satisfying way to build up a mental map of the city, as well as gain an understanding of where different areas and landmarks are in relation to each other. That’s something that I’ve often struggled with in America, where everything is so spread out and heavily automobile based.
By the end of the day I had taken almost 1,200 pictures, entirely with the Ricoh GR (mk iii). I dumped the vast majority of them of course, but still came away with almost 400 that were passable. In a city of this size, I could easily spend weeks or months just wandering around capturing the goings on without ever getting bored.
I do wonder at times about the risk of my street pictures becoming samey thanks to the particular style of shooting that the Ricoh GR lends itself to naturally, but then I compare the quality of the results I get from that tiny wee camera and those from my more expensive cameras in years gone by, and I suddenly feel a whole lot better.
One of my favourite areas to walk around is Chinatown, which I’ve talked about before in this post from 2015, but this time around we arrived there late, and there wasn’t a huge amount going on, as evidenced by this fed up fruit seller.
I’ve taken far too many pictures to be able to share properly in one blog, and that was just from the first day – so I’m going to break them up over a bunch of different posts. I simultaneously feel re-energised by being in a place with so much to see and photograph, and a sense of inadequacy at an inability to capture or represent everything that I’d like to. What a stupid quandary.
I have a couple of days to explore the city before I need to return to work, and I’m planning to cram in as much photo taking as possible in that time. I’ve got three cameras with me on this trip which is ludicrously excessive, especially given that I thought my main go-to would be the Nikon S2 with black and white film, which hasn’t even been taken out of my bag properly yet. However, I must counsel myself patience. It’s just been one day. Relax.
…this kind of insatiable need to always shoot more is something that I both love and hate about photography.
Anyway… this is the first time I’ve been to NYC at this time of year, and it is brutally hot in the sun – coming in at about 35C. It’s interesting to see such a large, modern, Western city in such heat, and how people deal with it.
Again I find myself comparing New York to London, if only in the sense of how different they are. The populations may be similar, but I feel like they have very distinctly different auras about them. For whatever reason, I feel much more comfortable here than I do back in the British capital – and I can’t quite place my finger on why that is just yet.
I’m trying to figure out now how I could come back here and spend a whole bunch of time on my own just solely dedicated to taking pictures, and what that might look like. Perhaps in a couple of years when I get a sabbatical from work.
Speaking of which… the whole reason I am here is on business, with a team conference/meeting starting in a few days. I’m glad I took the time to head out early, as it’s meant I’ve gotten the chance to acclimatise and get a feel for the city before I have to focus on other things. Big thanks to Watkis for hosting me and acting as local expert!
There’ll be more of these to come…