I think one of the most iconic songs about New York City, I'm sure this could be debated, is Billy Joel's 1976, "New York State of Mind." I would like to imagine that he wrote this song while ridding through the city on a rainy night, in a cab. Sitting there being bounced around as the cab cut through traffic, Billy longingly looking through the window, focusing past the raindrops composing the lyrics to what would become an iconic song. The thoughts on his mind are his and will forever be an inspiration that only he can recall, thoughts he would never share, but are felt through the sound of the piano keys and the lyrics that guide you through the monochromatic streets of Manhattan.
For me a "New York State of Mind" is a head full of inspiration and a heart full desire. For the dreamers, New York City is a playground of opportunities. You will not be granted an ounce of opportunity unless you prove your worth. Doors do not open unless you make them, by hard work, chance, and an unparalleled desire to be the best you can be.
There are certain times of the year when the city is a magical place, a wonderland of lust and desire, a place of magic and happiness. The weeks leading up to Christmas and the Holidays is one of those times. The city that never sleeps is illuminated by the glow of holiday decorations, lights that twinkle, sparkle, change colors, and dance through a motion of displays to entice shoppers, tourists, and New Yorkers alike. Christmas tree vendors take up space on the corners of streets, the steam rising from the streets adds texture to the ambient glow of the surroundings, the sounds of holiday music are pumped through the crisp air. Out door markets come to life as people shop for friends, loved ones, and anyone they desire to give gifts too. When the snow falls, it changes the environment drastically, creating what can only be described as a film set.
My wife and I locked arms as we walked across The Highline after exiting Chelsea Market. She had never been and I wanted to take her. The snow fall was at its peak when we were strolling across the slippery surface of the walkway. Carolers were singing, being filmed, people were stopping to make photos, myself included. The snow was accumulating and filling the streets, covering the holiday decorations, and creating a romantic backdrop. I took a few minutes to make some photos during our stroll.
I had with me my Fuji X-Pro2. It is my walk around camera, travel camera, and camera that I can depend on in in-climate weather. I wanted to make images that captured the essence of the pictorial set we were in. The Highline was the perfect backdrop to do so. With a little bit of direction I posed Sue in the environment, I used the ambient light, the snow, and the shapes of the environment to create environmental portraits.
A photograph does not have to be sharp, in focus to provide detail and tell a story. An image can stand alone, tell a story, and evoke a sense of mood and time within an environment. Such has the case with the following photograph. If you have been following along for the last few months, my Fuji X-Pro2 has a bent lens on it. Like I have mentioned before, I am in no hurry to replace it. While I can not manually adjust the f stops, the auto focus will work and put areas in focus while creating a gradation of focus fall off based on the distortion of the lenses damage.
The colors of the lights and the soft focus as the snow diffuses the city creates a tangible and soft scene. Moving from The Highline we slowly made our way towards Rockefeller Center to see the tree. Due to major traffic issues, we drove past the area and could not stop. Fighting the traffic and getting through hotel police barriers we made our way past Columbus Circle. Enticed by the charm of what we saw, we parked a few blocks away and walked back to the out door market. Browsing around and admiring the food, all good looking culinary delights, mostly carb based items that I can not eat the moment, I took in the sights and smells.
With the amount of snow that fell I was eager to walk through the park and experience the moment. The fresh snow was nothing short of cinematic and simply beautiful. Quiet. Peaceful. Tranquil. Still. The park didn't have a lot of foot traffic. A group of men ran by in what can only be described as the most inappropriate running gear possible. With a temperature of about 2-5 degrees, they were wearing shorts. A group of people were clam backing inside a zipped up pedicab. Children, couples, and families were ice skating on the rink. An adorable family was sliding down a self made path near the pond. The snow danced between the lights as it gently fell. Out side of the park the sounds of the city could be heard.
We weren't far from the tree and Rockefeller Center. We decided to walk down. I was on a secondary mission, find some nuts. If you never had those sugar coated cocaine like nuts, warm and delicious, you're missing out. If you have a nut allergy and can not eat them, let me describe even further so you know what you're missing out. They are both soft and warm, occasionally there will be a firm one. They are coated with a sugar that not only enhances the flavor, but widens your pupils and sends endorphins coursing through your body. Each is tightly wrapped and ready to be consumed at once. There is no saving and enjoying later. There is only, take a hit and repeat or take a hit and pass the bag and share with the person you care the most about. I needed to find some of those nuts. I figured I would find them next to the park. Wrong. It took another 30 mins of searching before I found them. The search was worth it.
After having found my nuts, the food kind, as I was still very cold...we made our way over to the tree just in time for the ice to be cleared off as a couple got engaged. Aww. Meandering around and looking at the lights and happy faces, I was happy. I felt the spirit of Christmas come alive within me, and I was excited to share in the happiness and the joy of the thousands of people around me. If you have never been to that are during the holiday season, suck it up, get over your fear of crowds and go. Don't worry, everyone, mostly everyone, is there for the same reason. To see a big ass Christmas tree with thousands of lights. Go. Take the kids. Take your wife, husband, girlfriend, the girl or guy you're crushing on, stand next to that big ass tree with thousands of lights, steal a kiss, give a kiss, or just hold hands and let the spirit and energy of the moment pass between you.
"In a New York Minute," "In a New York State of Mind," "As only New Yorkers know, if you can get through the twilight, you’ll live through the night, Dorothy Parker" There is an energy and a passion that you either have or don't have about New York City. You love it or you desperately despise it so much that you are vocal about it. A sense of love that can be express in words that inspire people to visit, move, become a New Yorker, or a sense of dread so thick that no amount of convincing will ever break the level of hatred. People from the farthest corners of the globe travel countless miles to see the city that never sleeps. Some never leave and some keep coming back. New York City, if you open your heart is an alluring and charming city with a world of adventures, sights, sounds, and tastes, ready to be had.
I am sure there are still generations of true New Yorkers, names of families that are permanently etched within the steel and concrete fabric of the citie's architecture, that still live, work, and walk the streets hopping galas, galleries, fine dining, shopping, and the next talked about social event of the season, that still call New York their first home. By the same measure, I am equally sure there are New Yorkers that are also into the generations that are transplants. Migrant families, immigrants, and people from other parts of the US that call New York City home. People that have helped shaped the city to become what it is today. New York City is comparable to Rome, a metaphorical example I defined and explained to Sue as we were exiting the park. Rome is a melting pot of cultures, much like New York City. Rome is an old world city with an expansive and visible history. It is one of the only cities in the world that I have walked through that has so much living history. New York City, like Rome, just on a much younger level is the same. One bridge is made of steel and bed rock while others are made of steel and asphalt. Glass towers made of steel cast shadows on buildings built of brick, laid by hand of migrant workers looking for a better life. Like the flash of a strobe, "In a New York Minute," the city changes.
I fall into the camp that loves New York City. I will not go into details as to why or what my favorite parts of New York City are. Rather, I will say, if you are reading this on January 6, today or tomorrow January 7th, I am in the city with Sue, building upon the wealth of experiences we like to collect. If you love New York City, we have commonalities and would probably be friends. If you have New York City, Im sorry. I will never try to convert you. I will respect your reasons why, but that doesn't mean I won't make great photos and share them with you. Keep a look out for the article about this weekends trip.