This past weekend, I went to New York City. It wasn’t under the best of circumstances, but I had to take the time to enjoy the city. I had to explore the Big Apple. After a plane ride with a whole row to myself (luxurious, I know), I rode a double decker train from Maplewood, New Jersey into New York City, armed with my Canon Rebel T2i, a 50mm f/1.8 lens, a 18-55mm f/5.6 lens, a 55-250mm f/5.6 lens, and various other equipment.
I was eager to capture the city that had been captured millions of times before. As soon as I exited Penn Station, I was struck by the utter size of the city. The monstrous buildings tower over everything else. The millions of people hurry about, oblivious to the world. With my camera, I tried to capture the city. My sister said I looked like a tourist with my camera hanging around my neck and my eyes fixed on the buildings. Tourists are people that visit destinations solely for pleasure. People that gawk at everything, snapping pictures whenever they can. I visit many places for pleasure. I guess you could say I’m a full time tourist.
I stood out. In a city where time wasted is time lost, I was stopping, taking the time to capture the moment. Photography is all about taking a moment, 1/400th of a second at a time, and freezing it forever in time. I did my best, constantly looking upwards, snapping picture after picture. I wanted to capture the true emotion of the city, the citizens. But there is a problem. New York is loud. New York is full of loud people, loud voices, loud personalities, loud actions. Yet, the subway trains are utterly quiet. People ignore. People don’t talk. People avoid human interaction at all costs.
My aunt and cousin, both residents of New York, warned me at separate times of taking pictures of New Yorkers, especially on subways. Pointing a camera at someone could incite them. It could ignite them. Thus, most of my pictures, regrettably, captured the city, not the citizens. I tried to capture the sheer power of the city through the humongous buildings.
I tried to capture at least a part of the emotion of the horrible tragedy of September 11th. I photographed the 9/11 memorial that consists of thousands of engraved names surrounding the pools that fill the two buildings’ footprints. Over one of the particular names I photographed, someone had placed a rose. This victim of the terrorist attacks was loved by one. He was loved by many. I captured the moment, and soon after, there was a line of photographers waiting to capture the same moment.
There was an equally emotional moment further down the memorial. In one section, the victims from Flights 77 and 93 are engraved. In each of these sections, one name stands out in particular. The victim is listed, followed by “and her unborn child.” Two pregnant mothers were victims of the terrorist attacks. I hoped to capture the emotion I felt by seeing this. Photography should capture every moment. Photography should capture every emotion.