New York City is a breeding ground for inspiring moments, with its ever-changing landscapes, establishments and inhabitants. Every day in the city, I strive to capture and document these moments, whether it’s through a photo, a Tweet, or a conversation. Here, on my third year as a Brooklyn resident from California, I offer you my visual perspective.
I’m not a writer so I’m not even going to try. What do I do, if I’m not a writer? I’m the techmonkey that keeps the servers running and the email flowing. I’m also a photographer, specializing in live music photography, typically using natural light and no flash. It can be a lot harder to get clear shots that way, but the end result is almost always so much more interesting, as well as being much less intrusive to the artists! Here are some examples of my work (in the gallery, top right), mostly shot around New York City throughout the past year, plus a couple from Boston where I’m originally from.
Our city has existed for hundreds of years, and it has existed in its recognizable state beginning about 150 years ago. Telling you that it has been subject to waves and waves of immigration is nothing you haven’t heard; to talk about the grand diversity of the place is not to make a remarkable statement. No, what I am interested in is not that overarching narrative of a great city being built up into the sky, but in what has formed its foundations and those secret stories that are buried beneath. There is a great deal of communication that goes unnoticed and slips away unheard. What happens to all of those unheard stories?
“The creative person looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport.” -Robert Wieder Whether I’m at JFK or in SoHo, I seek fashion that challenges and inspires me. From the low to the high, I am interested in fashion that tells an interesting story about the City. Whether it’s a vintage fur mink from a clothing swap, a pair of sneakers from a skate shop, or the shape of someone’s eye brows, what’s important is the sensibility and statement that the object or person expresses.
As an only child in the San Franciscan outskirts, I let my imagination run wild and free. Dealing with the natural loneliness as an only child, I found my artistic potential and passion through a Polaroid camera. The early union of photography and my innate sensitivity to humanism, hues and romanticism created a motivation that drove me, years later, to the process of black and white 35 mm prints while attending Diablo College.
I feel a little like Toucan Sam from the Froot Loops box, following my nose through life to the smell of *sniff sniff* food. In my travels all over the world, it has always been the most important thing for me to experience a culture by tasting it. Watching the Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern, from “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,” eat bulls’ balls only makes me want to go to Chile and try them. Sharing food also connects people like nothing else can—I mean, everyone has got to eat. Food, while not always a passion but always a backdrop, even led me to New York City.
Food is the substance that loops us together—everyone’s got to eat! New Yorkers, however, are probably the most fervent in regards to what constitutes “the best”. Points of contention arise at parties when someone dares to ask, “Where do you get the best pizza in the city?” The same goes for the illustrious carnival fare of hot dogs, knishes, pretzels, burgers and the growing number of gourmet truck offerings. People are thrown into a frenzy of choice, no matter if they’re visiting or have lived in the same Brooklyn apartment for 20 years.
For most of my adult life I’ve maintained this innate awareness. My identity is a confluence, where the communities I belong to meet my assimilation of my physical surroundings and sensory stimuli; an ever-fleeting sense of physical consciousness. Growing up an Asian-American farm boy, my family settled in a Northern California valley-town populated by ten-gallon hats, framed by golden hills and punctuated by dry, blistery summers. There weren’t many other kids like me in ‘My Little Slice of Texas.’
I woke up in this morning in New York City and it wasn’t paradise. There were no palm trees outside and the weather had not completely pulled itself out of the winter slump, having dipped down into the 40s the night before. I woke up to drag my feet down to the subway stairs, down the platform, squeezed into the first train, transfer, squeezed into the second train, wait, wait, transfer, shift bag, stayed away from that guy with the cough, let them in, let them off, spaced out, woke up, got out and went to work. I know I wasn’t alone either.
When I first arrived in New York City, one of the first thoughts through my head while walking around wide-eyed, was “Why don’t I have my #@$%$% camera on me?!” In New York City, there was so much happening at every turn; from the people to the buildings, everything with a story to tell. Every moment was waiting to be captured in a single frame. I have since learned my lesson, and have tried to keep my camera on me as often as I can.