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Jeffrey Byrnes Photographer Fashion + Portraits + Travel

New York City: Hell's Kitchen Froze Over

For the first time since July I had more than 1 day off to do nothing. Sure, the holidays just came and went, but when the holidays arrive, you're constantly running around, doing something, spreading cheer and money faster than you can make it. There really isn't to much downtime during the holidays. The weekend away was a welcomed trip. It was a break from the daily grind and the planning I have been doing for the up-coming year. 

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Without a doubt, this past weekend was the coldest weekend I have ever experienced. I survived. My wife survived. We are stronger, still a little cold, but stronger. Saturday morning we made a quick "breakfast" stop at Levian Bakery. We went to the hole in the basement one off of Amsterdam. It was my second time there. We parked about 200' from the door. In the 30 seconds it took to walk from the car to the door, I was consumed with a bone chilling cold that nearly paralyzed me. Even with a sweater, a jacket, a scarf, I still fell victim to the frigid negative number temperatures. Having half a cookie is hardly a breakfast item, but it is still worth it. Their chocolate and peanut butter cookie is amazing. Sue order some bread, butter, jelly something or other. It looked great, but being that I am still heavily into a very strict diet, half a cookie was enough for me. 

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We stayed at the Riu in Times Square. The Riu is a chic, fashionable, and very affordable hotel on Restaurant Row. This is not review of the hotel, so I am not going to embellish beyond the fact that it was a warm, welcoming stay in the heart of one of the greatest cities in the US. To be honest, I am not even sure if Times Square is the heart of NYC, it just seems to feel that way because of the tourism and congestion that fills the area. Being that it was the coldest day in the history of man, there wasn't nearly as many people out as you'd expect there to be. The cold obviously played a factor in that. After we checked into our room we redressed to get outside in the cold. I had with me a few different types of hand warmers. I thought they would be great to have with me to keep my hands and camera warm. I was wrong.

Frozen  hand warmers

Frozen  hand warmers

So what do you do when it feels like it is -35 degrees outside? Well, you walk around, grab an iced coffee from Starbucks, its the New Englander thing to do. I had with me, in my front two pockets of my jacket, some re-usable hand warmers. Within about 15 minutes they were frozen blocks of some kind of solid material. 

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center

Times Square is a fun area to visit. There is a lot happening, a lot of people trying to get you to take bus rides, sell you hot dogs, or get you to a comedy show. We met two people in two different areas of Times Square who have connections to where we are from. This world really is quite small. Times Square is an impressive mecca of shopping, the land of massive billboards, (some day I will see my photos up on them buildings, I promise you that), and an area with a lot of talent and energy. One of the things I got my wife for Christmas, to help with this weekend away, were tickets to a Broadway show. When we were in town last December we almost saw Kinky Boots. This weekend we made a point to see it. We made our way over to the theater, scored some tickets, and got back out into the cold. We walked a few blocks, up over past the Christmas tree that was at Rockefeller Center. When we saw it two weeks ago, you could hardly walk. This weekend, there was hardly anyone there. There were however a bunch of people skating. 

iPhone 7+, Portrait Mode, processed using RNI Films app (highly recommend)

iPhone 7+, Portrait Mode, processed using RNI Films app (highly recommend)

As cold as it was, there were still people out enjoying themselves. Some people were dressed inappropriately, given the temperature. Others were dressed as if it was a snowpocolypse. I wasn't as cold as I thought I would be, walking around with an iced coffee in my hands. My logic was this, yes I am from New England and I am used to the cold, but if I drink something cold, it would help me adjust to the temperature a bit more than if I was to suck down something hot. Sure, I was the only one thinking this while everyone at Starbucks was ordering a venti hot frapahlapa chia tea blonde blend. But it seemed to work for me. Call me an idiot or a brave pioneer, regardless I am a fan of cold coffee so I was just keeping within my routine. Plus, there are far more fun things to drink to stay warm, such as the pitcher of mimosas we had at a late lunch at the Bourbon Street Bar & Grille. I had some chicken wings and 3 mimosas. We started to warm up. 

Following a short trip down about 5 blocks to look for something that was closed, not open, "due to the weather," we hiked back up towards are area. We didn't want to venture to far away as we did have an 8pm show to get to and needed to be back to the hotel to get ready prior to the doors opening. After some yelping, an unsuccessful attempt at once place, we ended up at The Rum House. The dim lit, off the hotel entrance bar was the perfect spot to unwind, warm with some small bites, and cheers to a good day and the upcoming show. When I finally did decide on what to drink I had to include a pretzel. Breaking the rules of my lifestyle, the whole no carb thing, I just had to. It looked to good to pass up. We needed something to absorb the drinks we were about to have. After another warm, delicious pretzel and a drink or two more it was time to make our way back to the room to get ready for Kinky Boots. 

Hot Toddy

Hot Toddy

Sushi Roll

Sushi Roll

Squid

Squid

For someone who has photographed dancers for the last several years, its kind of sad to admit that I have never been to a Broadway play, musical, or anything. I like dramas. I love movies and films that tell a great story. I am not so much a fan of musicals. However, Kinky Boots was fun and did tell a great story. I am not going to try and be a critic and review the play, but it was good, worth seeing! Following the show it was time for dinner. The 2 hours and 20 minutes, with intermission, went by quickly. We had spent a few minutes on Yelp prior to the show so we had a place in mind. It was 2 blocks up from the Kinky Boots theater so it was going to be a fast and easy walk in the brutal cold. An'Nam is a Japanese fusion restaurant. I am a lover of Asian food. On the menu I had spotted some fried squid. It is so so so damn hard to find any kind of Octopus, calamari, or "squid" that isn't breaded. To many "chefs" are so quick to ruin the dish by breading the shit out of it. But, this squid dish was spicy, bathed in a sauce that sobered one up from an intoxicating and paralyzing frost. After some sushi, I know I know, more carbs, shhhh, sushi is healthy so no judgement...and a few other little bites of small dishes, we closed the restaurant out. Sufficiently full and ready to call it a night we jumped back into the arctic and made our way back to the Riu. 

Sunday's plan was to wake up, get the car from valet, and head up to The Met. As an artist, someone who went to school for art, this is very pathetic to admit, I have never been to The Met. I know shame on me. What a disgraceful artist and art student (when I was in school). We didn't spend as much time in the museum as I'd have liked. There were a few works that I didn't get to see that over the weekend, but we will see them in the spring..

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We really like the West Village. After grabbing a quick bite at Chirping Chicken we made our way to the West Village. If you want a quick bite of chicken with a semi southern flare, grab lunch at one of their locations. There three places in the US that I want to reside in. It goes in this order, West Village, would settle on Brooklyn, on the island of Manhattan, L.A. region of Cali, and Charleston. Obviously New York City and LA are incomparable, but both offer something unique. I am going to be writing about LA next week and make a compare and contrast to NYC as I thread my images into the article. But Cali, well thats obvious why I would want to live there for work. Charleston, well, the work I want to do, the work I like to do, doesn't really exist in their market. Charleston would be the ideal place to own a portrait studio for families, weddings, and seniors. I am not opposed to owning a studio of that nature, as I have in the past, but at this juncture in my career, shooting that type of work is not on the horizon. That goes without saying that I might not form a business in that area to do so, as that has been on a my "wishlist" for some time. Charleston is a beautiful area with a lot of cultural diversity. Of the three aforementioned places, the West Village comes in first place above LA. 

One of the best ways to get used to an area, walk around. Just get lost, just go and explore the area and see what there is. It was cold as hell, but it was still a beautiful walk around the West Village. We did not end up having dinner in the West Village like I had hoped. With the fading sunlight and the fact that the restaurant I had chosen closed at 3:30 and didn't open again till 5:30, we decided it was time to head home.

Below are some scenes from our walks in the cold, the hotel, and The Met. I have my Fuji X-Pro II set to black and white. While Lightroom and Photoshop do not read the color profiles, it is still fun to shoot in black and white. One of these days, soon, I am going to start using Capture 1. Almost all of my shoots are tethered, so it would make sense to use the best software for doing so. Capture 1 allows for Fuji profiles to be imported. So, all of those amazing profiles that mimic Fuji Film can be shot and imported using their software. SOON! Comment, share, follow, and check me out on Instagram @jeffreybphotography