From The Archives
Prints of New York City from college
Over the weekend I was cleaning up and ran across my portfolio boxes from college. I'd forgotten just how long I hadn't opened them so I decided to check it out and see what I even still had. I was surprised because one box is FULL of negative film strips and the other is filled with hundreds of prints! As I was going through my prints I found some from I project that I had to do. The project was that we had to choose a topic/place/person and create a cohesive work out of it. I chose New York City because when I wasn't working that's usually where I was going on the weekend and choosing it for the project would give me a chance to explore the city more than I normally would.
When I came back from my first trip and showed my professor my work he thought it was good but not great. The reason being because I was only photographing things. He told me to go back with the rest of my film and photograph ONLY people. Not only that but talk to them and get a story. I was so nervous because who does that besides Brandon of Humans of NY? I'm already in introvert so talking to strangers really isn't my thing. But I knew he was right. When I looked at the buildings and neighborhoods that I photographed I didn't really feel anything. They were just aesthetically pleasing in terms of contrast, exposure, etc. So I did what he said and went back to the city the next weekend. I went to my regular spots, Washington Square Park, Central Park, and Rockefeller Center. Between those three places I photographed some of my favorite black and white film photos to date. I think I love them so much because they're raw. They are just moments captured from every day life. People waiting for the subway, a person taking in the view from Top Of The Rock, musicians trying to make a dollar.
I did speak to some of the musicians in Central Park and snapped a photo of them as a portrait but all of the other photographs are just moments captured. I love that I kept these photographs for two reasons. The first is because it's the first time I ever really photographed people. Once I developed the film and saw what I'd captured I knew it was something I wanted to continue to do rather than just photograph landscapes or buildings or neighborhoods. These images made me feel happy and when I found them this weekend they made me even more happy. I posted a snippet of this on Instagram on Sunday when I was looking through the photos and a classmate from college commented and told me that our Professor, Anthony Velez, had passed away about a month ago. So my second reason I'm happy I kept these prints is because I'll always remember who told me that I needed to start photographing people. Professor Velez was a great photographer, hilarious, and honest about our work. If it was bad he told us how to improve it and so thankful he did. I probably wouldn't be where I am today without his advice. Because of that I'll cherish these photos for a very long time.
If you have a story about the first time you knew you what you wanted to photograph whether it be weddings, seniors, landscapes, ect. I'd love to hear your story in the comments below!