We had a whirlwind weekend in New York at the end of summer. It was primarily about the kids – one had grouped a number of gifts together for tickets to a Broadway show, the other wanted to see the Empire State building and CW Pencil Factory on the Lower East Side. Both wanted sushi. I’m surprised that we were able to fit in everything that the children wanted to do. At one point, I thought I would need to look for some short-term apartments for rent just so we had the opportunity to get all of the things done so that the children found the trip worthwhile. Luckily, we didn’t have to do this, but I’m glad that the kids had the chance to enjoy themselves.
Me, I wanted everyone to have a good time, not complain too much about the walking I knew we’d be doing, and I hoped I’d have a chance to make some pictures of an incredibly photogenic city even though the trip wasn’t really going to be about that at all.
My first concession to the reality of the our jammed-packed itinerary was to take only one camera, and make it a 35mm. It was a smart move. Even for a neck used to wearing a 645, taking off that much smaller, lighter camera than my go-to at the end of the day of walking the streets was a tremendous relief.
My second concession was the decision to focus on my kids and their experience almost all of the time, and only look around me with photography in mind in the small slivers when my husband had his eyes on both kids (excluding the early morning photowalk I took while my family slept). So I had no heartbreak over missed photo-opportunities, because for this trip that wasn’t going to be my focus. This frame of mind set my expectations, so that any time I was able to shoot a few frames, it was a bonus.
I think the combination of my low expectations with the high level of visual stimuli forced me to power up to a new level of speed – to think less, to act faster and to exercise more nerve in those rare moments when I did shoot. And I think it was a lesson I was ready to learn.
Considering that this trip wasn’t meant to be about the pictures, I’m pretty pleased with the visual mementos I have of it . . . except, would you believe, I didn’t manage to get even one of my two kids! There’s always next time.
Keep your eyes wide open,