Return to New York
Updated: Aug 23, 2020
In April I had the good fortune to find myself back in New York City, my home for two years while I studied for my final degree. It's just about my favourite place on earth.
As it happened I was there over the Easter weekend, and on Sunday morning, something called the 'Easter Bonnet Parade' caught my eye on Google Maps. I decided to swing by, although I thought it sounded a bit tame. I should have known better. New Yorkers know how to throw a parade.
The costumes ranged from the perfunctory (some hastily-procured bunny ears) to the provocative, to the political, to the exquisitely mad. The gay rights activists and impeachment advocates mingled pleasingly with the men with shoes for hats and the tall guy in a vegetable suit. With a vast papier-mâché eagle on his head. I didn't ask.
It was the perfect place for the introverted street photographer; the streets teemed with the weird and wonderful, everyone delighted to show off their efforts to the cameras.
Having eventually had my fill of the parade, I turned off the main avenue. By chance, the street I'd wandered into was had been taken over by a swing dance troupe and band. Accomplished dancers, in colourful period dress, swung and jived alongside enthusiastic passers-by who'd stopped to take in the show. The joy was infectious.
It had been uncharacteristically wet and cloudy during my brief time in the city, but before catching my flight home I caught a bit of sunlight in central Manhattan and went hunting for shapes and shadows.
Late in the afternoon I spontaneously decided to make Washington Square Park my final stop. I couldn't have chosen better. It was full of life: musicians, artists, protesters, skateboarders, and more dancers!
These two were throwing some moves just off to the side of the main fountain. I couldn't help but get caught up in their enthusiasm and total lack of inhibition. I tried a little bravery of my own and asked to take some shots of them rehearsing. They were kind enough to agree, so I stuck with them for about ten minutes, trying to capture something of their energy in my images. I still can't decide which of these I prefer:
It's easy to romanticise New York after a brief acquaintance. Two years of dealing with the subway, the cost of living and the cockroaches are more than enough to take the rose tint out of your spectacles. But I still love New Yorkers as fiercely as I did the first time I saw my first NYC Pride parade, or when I first joined them to march against Trump. Diverse, principled, blunt and endlessly creative, they give New York the electricity that makes it like nowhere else on Earth.
The bagels are fantastic, too.
Equipment & processing
Fujifilm X100T: fixed 23mm (35mm equiv.) f2 lens
Fujifilm X-E3 with XF 18mm f2 lens
All converted from RAW in Adobe Lightroom with Classic Chrome profile. Individually edited to taste, but colour images all have a vibrancy boost.
Love letter to the XF 18mm f2 lens to follow the next week or two. For the photography nerds out there.