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That Time I Went To NYC…

…and took the worst, most boring pictures EVER. Honestly.

I have been looking through old archives of photos (hence the recent Switzerland, Italy, and England posts from trips I took a decade ago) and I came across my “NY 2005” folder. It’s seriously embarrassing. You might wonder, how is it possible that I went to NYC and came back with such boring photos, especially when photography is my thing?! Oh, and not to mention I was in one of the most interesting cities in the country. Granted, I was there for a business trip and I didn’t have a ton of free time for sightseeing or taking photos, but I did spend an afternoon in the city wandering around a bit with my camera. Not only are the photos boring, they’re mostly unacceptably underexposed. I’m mortified, but I’ll show you a screenshot of the folder.

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Awful. *Shaking my head.* What happened? In plenty of trips prior to this one, I came back with beautiful photos. Why did I (photographically-speaking) stink up NYC so badly? Well, this was one of the first times I had traveled with my very first digital SLR (a Canon 20D). Oh how fun it was to see instant results instead of waiting for film to develop! Seeing instant images on the LCD right after pressing the shutter button, I immediately fell into the bad habit of thinking, “it’s digital and it’s freeeeeeee to take a picture, so my settings don’t matter! Whee! I can take as many as I want and I don’t have to think about it!” Whereas with film, each frame incurred the cost of the film itself and then also the processing and printing, so I was certainly more careful and thoughtful about my settings, my composition, and the story I was trying to tell in each image. Each image on film was very much on purpose, whereas each instant image on my shiny new magic digital SLR was basically disposable.

Thankfully, I started to learn that if I want good results, digital photography requires just as much care and purpose as shooting on film. Wedding photography especially has taught me that each digital image does count. In a moment that only lasts for a few seconds (the first kiss, for example), there’s no room for experimenting with settings even on a digital camera – you either know what to do or you don’t. Not to mention the hours and hours I would spend correcting images in the post-processing phase if I didn’t understand how to at least get close to a proper exposure. All of this is to say that if you are trying to improve your photography, a digital camera is an awesome learning tool if you are willing to learn why your first image didn’t turn out the way you wanted, shoot it again, and then apply that knowledge to getting it right the first time on your next shoot. And it’s a constant learning process – I’m still learning and improving, too (the day I stop learning and improving is a sad, sad day).

So there’s that, and also – don’t be too hard on yourself! It’s actually awesome that my digital photos were so awful nine years ago because it means I need to go back to NYC for a proper visit and a reshoot! Next time I’ll shoot with more purpose and inspiration. Sing it with me…these streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire yooooou. And speaking of big lights and singing, perhaps the highlight of our weekend was seeing a show on Broadway, Movin’ Out, which crosses that item off my bucket list! (Seeing a show on Broadway, not specifically seeing Movin’ Out.)

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Okay and just for funsies, here are two images that crack me up. On the left is a guy that Chris and I saw on the train. He’s working (?) on his laptop whilst draping a jacket over his head. What’s the story? Is he doing top-secret work? Can he breathe in there?! And on the right, I wish I had audio to go along with this sign – there were plenty of cars honking and no fines being handed out, so clearly this law is not heavily enforced.

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