After action report: New York

It’s been a long time since I was in Manhattan.
Well frankly I haven’t been there since I was a kid. Although the city has
changed considerably, as have I, it’s still the most important city in the
world where everything that you could want is unfortunately sandwiched between
things that you would like to avoid. In my case it is filled with potential
clients, read as: patrons for my art, and was unfortunately blisteringly hot.

Lots more after the jump.

My promo got excellent response and I was able to secure a
number of meetings with editors all of whom were very nice and my work was warmly
received. As a guy who has been primarily a newspaper photographer for the last
decade I explained to each editor that I am not a specialist because in the
newspaper world you can’t be one and get work. You have to have certain
strengths but must be able to shoot just about anything without any hand
holding from the head office. Many of these editors are used to seeing whole
books of essentially the same subject matter shot in essentially the same
manner. Many if not most magazine photographers are in a niche. But I’m not “the
guy who shoots everything that one way”. I have a style and a general approach
to making images but I don’t have, I don’t think, a signature image or very
very specific style.

I tend to be given difficult subjects to shoot: either
people who have never been professionally photographed or prefer not to be
photographed. That or I’m on such a short deadline that there is no ability to
wait for a time when more is happening or worse when the conditions will make
better photos. Guys like me are similar to the military’s Special Operations
forces in that we are dropped into the worst situations possible with no notice
and are expected to get the job done regardless of circumstances. So even
though I love to spend a few hours with a subject and follow the flow of their
lives and with my camera reveal some aspect of their live that is rarely an
option. Only have ten minutes with the subject and you’ve driven half way
across the state to find that the location is dreadful? No problem. Bring out
the strobes and make something out of nothing. That was essentially my
introduction during these meetings.

I did plenty of research to find these editors and it seemed
to surprise a few. I sent post cards to most of them and all of the editors on
my list got my hand made promo. Yet when I got to NYC and made the call to see
if I could swing by and meet them a few asked me “How did you find me?” because
their phone number or even position isn’t listed anywhere that they knew of. I
explained that I tracked them down the way that I would anyone that I have to
photograph. That is part of the job isn’t it? Finding people and information
and locations and all the little things that let you get to where you need to
be when you need to be there to make the photo that when most look at it think “Humph!
I could take that.” Yeah you could if did all the work necessary to point your
lens from that spot on that day.

So I treated the whole 5 day jaunt as I would any
assignment: do a lot of research, make some connections, get prepped and then
spend a lot of time walking around and waiting for the moments that I need. I
preferred to go everywhere either on foot or by bus so that I could see things
and meet people. I carried my Panasonic LX3 with me but frankly it was the
camera in my Nexus One that got all the work. I didn’t have that much time to
just wander, not when you are making 75+ phone calls a day and going from one
side of lower Manhattan to the other 4 times a day so the Cam-o-Phone was the
ticket since it was always in my hand, or so it seemed.

Neat thing about the Nexus One that I’ve been calling “The
Communicator” after the Star Trek device: it has essentially replaced my laptop
for travel stuff. I had all my contacts from Outlook on it, the mobile web for
research, did a bunch of e-mailing to editors while even on the bus, was able
to view a custom Google Map I set up with all the editors locations on it so I
could make phone calls to them based on where I was at the time, had the routes
and schedules for all the trains and bus lines, an app which helped me find a
great Vietnamese restaurant, had music for the flight as well as the book that
I’m reading and did a good job of making photos of the trip. And it all fit in
my pocket.

There were a number of editors and art directors that were
on my list but couldn’t get away to meet with me but I came back with some
excellent contacts and some editors who now have me in their database with a
face and quirky personality to remember. I know now that this will be a regular
event for me and I’m looking forward to the next one. Huzzah!

So here are some images from my week in the Big Apple. I was delighted with with the quality of light in the city so I started just looking at how things looked.

NYC1 

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