Monday, September 30, 2013

Explosive Streets of New York

Day 5 report by Aaron Esser and Jeff McCoy 

If you have ever been to New York you will understand the mass quantity of decisive moments that may occur in a split second due to the cities total population and visitors to the city. The decisive moment is a photographers dream and can happen so fast that it leaves an impression for a lifetime weather you catch the moment on camera or not.

How many times have you told a story to a loved one and had no picture to support the story? Many times right? For photographers the decisive moment is being aware of what is occurring around them at all times, while documenting the occurrence in the form of a photograph. Being a photographer also presents times where the decisive moment can back fire; either something prevented you from taking the photograph or your subject is not interested in the moment you vision behind your lens.

What is a Decisive Moment? The well-known father of the decisive moment was born in August 22, 1908. Henri Cartier-Bresson brought us modern photojournalism, candid and street photography (life reportage).

For many of us who visited New York this past week we would most likely tell you that we enjoyed the experience to its' fullest extent. This trip alone made the program worth it. Some obtained blisters, sore feet and backs, while others endured a fatigued state. Early mornings and late nights wondering popular and non-popular parts of New York took its toll on our bodies. The explosive energy around New York brought us the courage to forget that we just spent fourteen hours per-day away from our hotel room in order to better educate ourselves in culture, practice our photography, implement our skills and of course share with all of you.

The final day in 'The Big Apple'. The morning of our last day started nice and early. We packed up our gear to be ready for our six o'clock departure and headed to the largest independent photography and video store in the United States. B&H was massive, it was hard to take it all in knowing limited budgets applied. They have hundreds upon hundreds of cameras, lenses, computers, tripods and any other photography or video related thing you can think of. It was a very cool experience and we all wish we had bigger budgets to upgrade gear or check something off from our wish list. There really is no limit in gear and that is inspiring as a photographer.

After B&H we headed towards the subway, which would take us to our next destination in Central Park. While walking towards the subway Aaron was giving money to the less fortunate. Missing the decisive moment I asked Aaron to give the next person some money and I would document the exchange. While looking through the lens of the camera I noticed the women got up and starting running towards me. Frozen in time I pulled my camera away from my and eye and the girl starting yelling at me "don't" while pointing a finger. She continued to say "I have three teenage kids and it's embarrassing enough to be out here". I felt for her situation and tried to explain that I was a photography student and my intention was showcasing Aaron's generosity. Her and I came to terms with the situation and Aaron left the money along with many additional apologies.

This was one of those decisive moments that I never released my shutter. Part of me is very disappointed that I did not allow what we are learning in photojournalism to take precedence and capture the photograph. As photographers sometimes you have to let your heart step aside no matter what you are photographing. We all learned something in this scenario; take the photograph first and foremost. Secondly, understanding first- hand that tough situations will arise, be prepared for the unexpected decisive moment or battle with the moral right photograph. We are all thankful for David Chidley for sharing his knowledge with us. Upon not learning from him, I personally would not know what to do.

Arriving in Central Park for a video lesson with Troy Shantz and guest speaker Ken Maldonado. Ken is a freelance photojournalist who lives in Queens. He graduated with a degree in photography in 2007 and now works for the Wall Street Journal. Ken was successful in photography because he was "just being himself", he said. "Go after one thing and do it as best as you can" were words that stuck for all of us. The biggest thing that hit home for us was that he stressed the importance of being proactive and creative in how to approach potential clients. It was mentioned, "clients will not come to you, do not sit and wait for work. "Build relationships and do nothing for free if it’s going to cost you money " he added. Richard Beland, along with our other teachers has supplied us with a solid foundation thus far and it was really nice to hear a successful story such as Ken's. Hearing a story from a recent graduate really put our careers in perspective. Overall, cool experience and thank you Troy for setting this up for us.

Central park was beautiful. The sky was blue with a cool breeze. We walked through the park, which was full of families. People were leading others on horse and carriage, others doing shows for money on the street, and lots of people just walking around enjoying the beautiful day.

Jeff and Aaron started taking pictures of a juggler who was doing a show in front of several people after our inspiring conversation with Ken. While Jeff was taking a pictures of the show, the juggler called Jeff a creep and that one of the kids sitting in front of him better be his and if not leave a tip. Again this was a story that was shared on our way home and great learning experience. Jeff told me he was embarrassed in front of the crowd at Central Park and he was able to use learned techniques taught to him to be professional and understand that taking pictures to showcase the story happening in front of him can be perceived as 'creepy'.

On our way back to the hotel to gather our luggage every taxi seemed to have someone in it, the area was very busy. When we finally found one it wouldn’t take us because he was not familiar with the area we needed to go. We had to make a quick decision to stay in this cab or try another. We decided to try another cab. All taxi drivers where very friendly and offered assistance with our next destinations during our trip. On some occasions taxi drivers told us they were not familiar with the area in order to avoid heavy traffic areas. Getting another taxi was pretty simple though.

We all walked away with great memories, great experiences, and great photos. We flew in early Wednesday morning and had a non-stop five days. We visited exhibits, restaurants, subway rides, stores, landmarks, parks, bridges and much more.

From all of the year two students, thank you for being part of our experience. We hope you enjoyed the journey as much as we have!

PS. Jeff was stopped by the security guard for a random check at the airport on our way home. A security officer used a high-tech machine to heat a cardboard like sliver of paper the size of a thumb. The officer then rubbed the paper all around the palm of his hands. Jeff told me he watched the screen. He felt like it was taking a long time. Sure enough a red banner flashed. Inside the banner it read explosives detected. The funny thing is that Jeff asked to take a picture of the small room where he was searched. He will leave the 'strip search' to your imagination but at least he learned to always try and capture the decisive moment. 

**Editor's Note**  Check back tomorrow for one final instalment of the NYC trip Blog with some final images.

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