It’s been a while since I have done any sort of photography documenting the lives of people in my neighborhood and life in NYC in general since this pandemic we are presently living in. It was great to meet up with another peer Davidson, who is also a photographer. A little back story on how we met since it revolves around the culture and art form of photography. We met in August 2019 during a photo event hosted by Street Dreams Magazine courtesy of Steve John Irby as the internet knows him as Steve Sweatpants and Raheim Simon a.k.a Black_Soap. That event was the first time that I attended a meeting for photographers by photographers. It was great because you got to see a broad range of people in all skill levels from amateur to professional. You were able to ask questions, chop it up, learn, and network. There was a wide variety of subjects that people’s work embodied and that is what is one of the beautiful aspects of photography which in its purest form is a medium for all.
I met Davidson at this event and we have kept in touch ever since. Fast forward to 2022, we both decided that it was time to link up, catch up and take photographs again of our city. It’s been difficult to find groups now that do these kinds of events for photographers and what better way than to do it with like-minded individuals.
The account of the day in this story first starts with Davidson and his photographs as we trek from Williamsburg and head our way to cross the city into the Lower East Side. This is followed by my perspective. The second half entails what photography means to us and why we captured the images we took during the photo walk challenge.
We had set this up a few weeks back before I arrived in NY. The weather was perfect for some good photography cause it was an overcast day. We met up in BK and to my surprise, Mickie grew his hair since the meetup so I barely recognized him lol. We dapped up and started our journey. It started out rough cause it was windy af and I wasn’t getting anything good. Many times out, shooting the first ten minutes it’s rough till you find your groove. After a good walk towards the bridge, we crossed over to my favorite part of the city. Downtown! We roamed around shooting and even did a 20-minute scavenger shoot per se around Chinatown where we went into our separate directions and met back up at a certain spot to see what we got in the time limit. After we grabbed some delicious food in Chinatown and walked it off till like Midtown. I love walking the city and just getting into all the crevices and hidden streets while I shoot. It truly feels like I’m in a movie and grabbing screenshots. I can’t thank Mickie enough for this opportunity. We both met in a photo meet as many people have in the past and I’m sure they’ll be back and we can all hang out again. This I’m sure won’t be the last time we hang Mickie! Enjoy!
We were blessed with good weather and rescheduled it for Thursday on the 10th. You know it’s winter in NYC when you consider 40–45-degree day warm. We met up in Williamsburg on a radiant sunny afternoon. As we started to closely head towards the bridge, clouds slowly emerged. We hit up LES, Chinatown, Soho, and Union Square. Overall, the tour took about 8 miles of walking but it did not even feel like we walked so much. The day just flew by. Not only did we take pictures and refamiliarize ourselves with street snaps, but we also discussed matters in life, shared things we’ve learned, the progression that we have taken since our first meeting, and future endeavors. I’m excited and happy to see you do those things Davidson!
삼. Preface To The Perspective Challenge: The Meaning Of Photography To You.
Man, for me photography started when I used to walk those old NY stores where they had postcards like the Statue of Liberty, The Unisphere, or Times Square. I always wanted to take those kinds of pictures. Then one day in Ikea I saw a huge print of the Flatiron building and since then I’ve thought about photography. I had an old Canon PowerShot and played around with that. When I had my Blackberry I always took pictures on it. After a few years of messing with my phone, I decided to buy a Nikon 3200 and a 50mm lens from a friend.
Fast Forward to a few years and I began to go through some dark times in my life. I had come to a point in my life that picking up a camera changed my perspective in life. Before I picked up my camera I had never been in some places my camera took me. It opened my eyes to other parts of the city I doubt I’d ever seen if I didn’t pick up my camera and started walking. I truly believe everyone has a method to escape. A medium to express themselves or an emotion they can’t write or put into words. You see, I was never much of a talker. I was the shy kid in class. But my camera changed that. I began to take it seriously and try to invoke an emotion or a feeling with my photography. I don’t want you to just see my images and feel what I felt that day but perhaps it can move you and awaken something in you. I believe photography is a capsule of time but also a vessel of emotion and story. I always say my camera saved my life and as corny it sounds, it really did. Looking through the lens changed the way I looked at life.
Growing up I was always around people that loved photography. My mother took a lot of pictures with a film camera and my uncle also loved to take photographs. I became more curious about photography through the images growing up I saw of cars through magazines such as Super Street, Import Tuner, Option 2, Drift Tengoku, and car bloggers. All that changed for me when I discovered street photography or what I call photojournalism of everyday life. The first camera I ever purchased was a Ricoh GR II digital. I thought it was the Ricoh GR but the specs and price said otherwise. I soon discovered it was the wrong camera. This experience was like that of Itsuki in Initial D when he thought he bought a Hachi-Roku but it was an AE-85. The camera had no zoom and this drove me crazy at first but I later learned to appreciate and do with what you have. I remember purchasing these lot of books shortly after a week of my camera purchase, without knowing anything since it was a steal on eBay for $40. The books were 2 other magazines and included Imogen Cunningham’s Photographs, Robert Doisneau Three Seconds From Eternity, and Henri Cartier Bresson The World of Henri Cartier Bresson. This blew my mind how people took beautiful photographs of everyday life and were able to have careers with a camera. It taught me so much about our past and the soul of the artist.
It wasn’t until 2018 that I formed the concept of Yellow Vino. What I do know and understand with my learning of photography is that it is a powerful tool that is supposed to be a medium that is equal to all but with discourse and agendas of people, it became another tool that was used for other purposes. I think everyone should study the history and the greats that came before us. Gordon Park’s A Choice of Weapons is a book that made me understand how much of a responsibility it is to become a photographer. Your own journey and experiences in life are unique. I would try to stay as authentic to yourself and what matters to you as much as possible. At the same time, you have a huge responsibility to capture and humanize people. The camera is the closest thing we can get to a time machine. What you decide to showcase and document ultimately is a reflection of your character and beliefs. Studying the greats and learning that we must be careful with this weapon. The user has the ultimate choice with how they will interpret this world for the masses to see, whether it is for good or evil. That is the beauty and the curse we live with as humans.
사. Perspective Challenge
For a perspective challenge, Davidson suggested that we split up in Chinatown for about 25 minutes. During this time, we wanted to see what images we would compose and what was our reason, and ultimately the outcome. Below is our account of the event why we took these particular photos during the time of the challenge.
A big theme in Chinatown is the color red. You see it everywhere from signs to paint to uniforms. Red in Chinese culture symbolizes luck, joy, and happiness. Red is the traditional color worn by Chinese brides, as it is believed to ward off evil. It also helped that it was Chinese New Year that we ended up in Chinatown. After we split up I headed towards Canal St. to see what I’d get.
We split up with what used to be Penguin Village where a lot of anime was sold in a basement mall in Chinatown. I think many people know this location as to where Travis Scott before he blew up shopped for old Supreme Gear from a mother and son duo that sold in this same basement. Once we agreed to the 25 minutes challenge, I needed to take a bad leak. I ran to the park because I had to use the bathroom. After I was able to have peace, I was then able to get back into work mode.