“It is amazing how lovely common things become, if one only knows how to look at them.” ~ Louisa May Alcott
If you follow me on Instagram, you would know that I enjoy taking photos of New York City. I'm really fortunate to live in such a vibrant city with an energy like no other and I want to share that with everyone. What you might not know is that the majority of those photos are totally spontaneous. I treat my excursions through the city like photo walks. I find it helps to actively engage my sense of observation and as well as fuel my inspiration. I believe that there is always something interesting to capture if you keep your eyes open. With that in mind, I'm going to share a few things that I do when I take my photo walks along with some of my favorite unplanned photos.
BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS
No matter where you are, you should always be aware of your surroundings whether you're in a crowded urban environment or out in nature. Keep safety in mind as well as potential subjects for photography. I'm partial to crosswalk shots which have to be timed with oncoming traffic when you happen to be alone.
I took this shot of the Chrysler Building one evening while walking to the train at Grand Central. It was starting to drizzle and it was a little foggy and this lent such a dreamy quality to the Chrysler Building. I remember that I was able to frame this up on the corner of 42nd and Vanderbilt on the other side of the trashcan so that could avoid people crossing the street.
HAVE YOUR CAMERA READY
I don't necessarily walk around with my camera or my phone in my hands most of the time but I will make sure I have one or another and it's easily accessible.
A good number of film and television productions film in NYC. You can usually spot one when you see a bunch of trailers and certain areas are cordoned off. White Collar was a show that filmed around my neighborhood quite often so I would stumble upon them fairly often. I didn't always have my camera like that one time I saw Matt Bomer in a tux but I did happen to have my camera the day I took this photo of him in Madison Square Park because I had just finished up a headshot job right before. Note: He is even more handsome in person and very nice.
OBSERVE THE WORLD AROUND YOU
Take in everything as you look around from the big picture to the details.
There is always something to see and urban architecture happens to be a wonderful photography subject when you're in NYC. I have my favorites that I can't walk by without snapping. The Beekman whose beautifully detailed facade which has fascinated me for years was restored and recently reopened as a luxury hotel.
SEE THE EVERYDAY IN A DIFFERENT WAY
We all have places and things that we pass by as we go about our daily lives and we usually don't think twice about them or give them a second look. I find that by paying attention you can learn to appreciate that at different times of the year or the day or when certain weather occurs, things can take on a new appearance.
Doyers Street is probably one of the most photographed in NYC and it has also appeared in many film and television productions. It's easy to see why because it has a great sense of atmosphere. I walk through it all the time and I find it interesting how it becomes a different character based on the time of day or how many people happen to be walking on it or not.
TELL A STORY
Often the images I find most compelling are ones that visually convey a story of some sort. Capture scenes of everyday life where you live. Include people if you're in an urban environment and include elements of nature if you're in the great outdoors.
This lady was standing in front of me at a crosswalk and I knew as soon as I snapped it that this would be an interesting image with the convergence of her shadow with the lines. With only her legs in the shot, it created a sense of mystery as well.
Photo walks are a fun voyage of discovery no matter where you happen to be. Whenever new photographers ask me for advice, I always encourage them to just walk around and take lots of photos. This helps you to get familiar with your camera as well as form your creative eye, improve your composition and to learn how to tell stories with your pictures. When I first learned photography, I had the oddest fascination with photographing puddles. I realize now that went a long way to help me appreciate that beauty can be found in anything if you just choose to see it. Have you ever gone on a photo walk? What did you photograph?
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