New York is one of the most photographed places in the world, both by tourists and professionals. With a place which has had so many portraits taken, how do you make your own images interesting and unique? The answer lies within the the vision of the photographer, not to sound trite or obvious or anything. Professional photographers literally “see” the world differently. They can find a photogenic moment in even the most mundane everyday behaviors, and then capture those moments on film (or digitally these says) to preserve a snapshot of time.
Obviously there is some skill involved, but the primary element that differentiates your usual amateur shot from one more advanced is the composition. In a recent photography workshop I attended, we were told that you can take a great picture with a cheap camera and an awful picture with an expensive camera, so the quality of your equipment really has less to do with it than we all think. Lighting, aperture, shutter speed… these are buzzwords that can turn off a beginner because it all sounds so darn technical. Most people just want to snap a few photos and move along with enjoying their trip. It’s well worth it though to put a bit of extra thought into those shots, as that can be the difference maker between an album that only shows up on your screen saver and art that would be worthy of hanging on your wall. The best part is, literally anyone can accomplish this.
I am not a professional photographer, and I will not even attempt to advise anyone on how to better use their camera. I merely wish to point out that from my own observations, the most successful travel photographs have focused less on famous monuments and more on the “essence” of a place.
These photographs by Jonathan Percy do not depict your immediately recognizable landmarks of the city, but they undoubtedly feel New York. They are capturing the little parts that together create the fabric of this vibrant city. I bet if you had these filling a photo album they could almost transport you back to the smells, the sounds, and the sights of each moment. Because isn’t that the main reason you take photographs while traveling? To take a piece of that place and time home, to be re-lived and remembered?
Please don’t think that I am in any way belittling any photography by anyone trying to capture something special during their holiday. I love taking friend shots, selfies, and ridiculously posed groups shots in front of major landmarks just as much as the next person. But in future travels, I will also try to develop my skills more as an artist, and maybe finally shoot something I would be willing to hang on my own walls back home. What better souvenir could you ask for?