Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Heading way up town in New York City (Washington Heights)

On Thursday, I was luckily enough to join an amazing nonprofit group called NYSalt, led by Alicia Hansen, on their photo shoot in Washington Heights. Alicia started NYSalt to take a group of underprivileged kids and teach them photography, and she has done some really amazing work. Many of the kids are heading to college, and even getting scholarships for their photographic work.

Washington Heights is way up on 175th Street and a totally different area than the New York City that I am used to. It is a rougher area within the city, where many of the kids live. Each of the kids was given a photo assignment (shoot low, motion blur, shoot from a high position, framing images...) and we went out with them to teach them their techniques. I think I had more fun than they did, stopping by some cool places to capture the essence of the area. In this image, I saw this guy getting his haircut and stepped into the barber shop, asking them if it was OK to snap some images. I was showing the kids that you need to be social and not be afraid to ask people to take their pictures.

Continuing that same lesson, I saw this guy standing up against a wall smoking a cigarette and thought that it would be a cool shot. I asked him if I could take his photo and, with a little hesitancy, he agreed. The first time that I shot his photo, the smoke came right at me (instead of straight out) and I continued shooting to get shots with the smoke going straight out. And...of course...I showed him the images as I shot them. Funny thing is...when I got back to my hotel and looked at the images, the first one, where he is slightly hidden amongst the smoke, was my favorite.

I saw this cool wall with graffiti and asked Danny, the student, to stand against the wall so that I could take his portrait. Not only is he a good photographer, he makes a good model too. :)

This shot just makes me smile. We found a great place to shoot images of the Washington Bridge. It was a high vantage point on the top floor of the bus station. This was the part of the road which connected the station to the bridge (allowing movement at the junction point). I looked down and saw the pattern looking like a face and had to shoot that.

At 7:15pm, the sun set (although it was not visible behind all the rain clouds) and the rain started. But rain was not going to stop us from getting some shots of the bridge at night.

We stayed in Washington Heights for dinner, eating at a traditional Dominican restaurant. We had chicken, rice and fried bananas. It was very inexpensive and very tasty! Then, those of us who were heading back downtown, headed back to the subway station. I thought it would be fun to set up the tripod and take a shot of the group with a subway going behind them. We heard a train coming and I got ready, but then we all laughed when we saw that it was a maintenance train. But, you know what, it made for a fun shot with a bright yellow background!

No comments: