lets take some pictures in NYC
December 6, 2011 4:06 PM   Subscribe

Creative photography ideas in NYC in December for a total photography amateur looking to kill some time?

I'll be spending the week between Christmas and New Years in Brooklyn/NYC. I grew up and live near there, so I am familiar with everything and don't need to do any touristy stuff, I just want to walk around and take cool pictures. I am not a photographer, but I love taking pictures, and sometimes they come out pretty good. I have a decent point-and-shoot camera, but unfortunately, I lack creativity.

Can you come up with some photography themes/projects, or ideas of what would be cool to take pictures of? Bonus points if they are NYC-specific. I am not good at spotting things that would be good for a picture while walking around, I need to have an idea in my head so I can look for things related to that idea.

I saw this thread: http://ask.metafilter.com/80441/Photography-trips-in-NYC-area, but it doesn't have a lot of ideas, and I am looking less for specific things/places to take pictures of, and more for themes. Does that make sense?

This will be just for myself, not for any commercial use or blog or anything like that. I just need a hobby for a few days so I don't die of boredom.

Thanks for your help!
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Graffiti? Manhole covers? Street signs? Subway signs? Any of those would take you all over town.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:28 PM on December 6, 2011

I quite like the theme of "exhausted shoppers who want the goddamn holidays to be over already" this time of year but I suppose ymmv.
posted by elizardbits at 4:32 PM on December 6, 2011

Food carts, people looking at holiday windows, tattered xmas lights suspended over the streets.
posted by moonmilk at 5:37 PM on December 6, 2011

A couple ideas:

- I like trying to take shots in NYC that one would never guess are from the City, but maybe leave a tiny hint. For example, there are some places in Central Park where you can be surrounded by bedrock and trees and not see anybody or anything. That kinda shot is neat if you explain it. But it is better if there is a tiny hint of the City -- like a cab passing in the distance, or a skyscraper poking out behind a tree.

- Walk around Lower Manhattan -- like Wall Street, Broad Street, William Street. And then look up. The buildings are so dense down there, that you will see all sorts of crazy juxtapositions.

- Long exposure shots of very busy places are always neat.

- One tip (I'm not a photographer, but have picked this up): Let's say you are lining up a shot, and some crazy looking guy wanders into your frame and now you have this amazing picture. And you take this picture. Now, this crazy guy is going to want to look at you and be like, "Why the F are you taking my picture?!" Here is the magic, look past them and make no contact and keep taking pictures that way. In other words, pretend they just screwed up your shot (even though they were the shot). Just don't make eye contact, and keep looking beyond them to the point you were focusing on snapping a few pics. The crazy will go right by and you only have to delete a few random pics. Practice that -- the people you can get on the streets are some of the best things. Or try and get one of those crowded 80s movie sidewalks pics.

- OOH. Pretend you are like the Sartorialist or Bill Cunningham. However, your goal is to take pictures of people wearing an outfit that is all one color. Like, someone in a pink snowsuit. Or full blue denim head to toe. Or a single shade of green. I bet if you were looking it won't be hard. You could even up the ante and just shoot for one particular color -- that could make an interesting slide show.

- Old New York -- kinda the opposite of the Park one above. See if you can take shots that nobody could put a date on. Picture looking through the window of a 100-year-old bar to an elderly man in a suit reading the paper. It could be 1938, 1974, 2011....if you are selective, maybe you can avoid any hints that give it away.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 6:19 PM on December 6, 2011 [4 favorites]

Greenwood Cemetery.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:45 PM on December 6, 2011

I saw a book recently where every page was of a picture of a shirt with the number of the page. Mostly sport jerseys. Amazingly, this book was selling for actual money.

100 Strangers.

I saw another book if old storefronts. I think it was called "disappearing new york" or something along those lines.

Taxicab passengers. Just walk up to the car when its stopped at a light & snap a picture. That would be pretty funny. Not sure where "reasonable expectation of privacy" law stand on inside taxicabs.

Just normal street photography- especially in some of the neighborhoods that threads on metafilter won't steer tourists towards.

Early morning life, especially deliverymen for store etc (flowers & fish are two things that are usually fresh daily).
posted by MesoFilter at 11:09 PM on December 6, 2011

I am not a photographer

Don't get down on yourself. If you take pictures, you're a photographer. Lack of confidence prevents a lot of good photography. Act like you deserve to be there taking pictures. That goes a long way.
posted by msbrauer at 7:00 AM on December 7, 2011

I moved away from the NYC metro area long before I could complete it, but when I was up there, I had a long-term project of taking pictures of the mosaics in the subway system. Bonus: you can do this project as an adjunct to others as you travel around the city.
posted by immlass at 7:15 AM on December 7, 2011

You are over thinking this. Just go out and shoot and wait for a theme to develop. Go somewhere you would like to explore that is visually interesting and go nuts. The beauty of shooting with a point and shoot in a place like New York is that no one cares or notices you. They will probably just assume you are another tourist. That can be used to your advantage.

This is coming from experience here but sometimes if you over think photography, say if you keep telling yourself you need to go out and make awesome photos you end up freezing up and not shooting anything. If you think that might happen, just go out shopping or exploring for the sake of doing so, and consider the camera as a way to document that.

If you are still having trouble thinking of what to shoot, well think about the kind of photos that you like to look at. People, buildings, animals, landscapes? Go try for those. Just shoot a lot and have fun.

And you have a camera, you shoot photos, you are a photographer. Maybe not a professional photographer but still a photographer.
posted by WickedPissah at 7:38 AM on December 7, 2011

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