I’ve been visiting New York City since I was a freshman studying photography at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in upstate New York. As a Canadian from across the border I was considered a foreign student and my American friends took great delight in warning me about muggings, subway violence and other Big Apple dangers. The city has became a lot safer since then and is a fabulous place for a photographer to seek inspiration on so many different levels. During a recent month long stay in the East Village I divided my time between between taking photos, visiting galleries and catching up on the latest trends. This is what I found.
The City as Subject: New York is the street photography capital of the world and just walking around presents a myriad of photo opportunities. Everyone is an artist (or wants to be) so using a camera or iPhone is not seen as unusual. A good place to start is by walking the 51 blocks (4km) of Central Park - a city within a city with lakes, woods and meadows. Down in Lower Manhattan the recently completed High Line gently snakes its way through the city beside elevated gardens that give glimpses of busy street scenes below. Another great photographic walk with fabulous skyline views is to cross the Brooklyn Bridge and head back over the Manhattan Bridge into Chinatown.
Inspiration: This what New York offers in spades. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and MOMA are great places to begin and although their photography collections are classic their art is really not to be missed. On this last trip I went to the MET five times and still didn't seen it all. The International Centre of Photography (ICP) is always a good place to view photography exhibitions as are commercial galleries like Rotella in SOHO, Aperture Gallery in Chelsea and even the Gagosian and Pace/MacGill galleries on the upper east side.
Gear: B&H has always been my go-to place for equipment and spending a morning in their cavernous store is like having multiple Christmases all at once. Surprisingly, having a play with every known camera on the market and all the associated gear ever made for photographers can bring about a strange state of calm. Sometimes you just come to the realisation that shopping is just a powerful distraction from the simple joy of actually taking pictures.