Q: What makes New York City a great subject for photographers?
A: Like any big city, there is energy and vibrancy. But, with New York, you take the energy meter and basically put it at a 10 plus. So many people, so many different cultures, neighborhoods, languages! It is said you can get on the average subway car in NY and hear 10 different languages being spoken. I don't doubt it. I lived in the city for 17 years and know it well. I was a newspaper and wire service shooter here in the Big Apple, and have a connection to the irony, impossibility, magnificence, and humanity of the city. Love to shoot here. There are pictures everywhere. And friendly, approachable people, contrary to the rumors.
Q: What is the most important thing a student should bring to this workshop?
A: Outside of the camera and computer basics, which we all know, a sense of curiosity, and a willingness to experiment. We will talk about strategies for making pictures, and making pictures better. Lens use, camera holding, exposure, lighting, f-stops and shutter speeds, composition....all that stuff will be talked about, over and over. But at the end of the day, the most important piece of equipment in your bag will be your sense of adventure, a willingness to dive into the best of the big city and breathe the fumes and the energy, and let that transfer to your attitude at the lens. Like the city, [you have] to be relentless, restless, brash, and inquisitive.
Q: Tell us about a favorite photo you took in New York City.
A: On the Brooklyn Bridge, on assignment to depict the energy, youthful intelligence and vibrancy of Stuyvesant High School, one of the best in the country. I had a cheerleader out there, and a trampoline, believe it or not. Great kid. Idea was to shoot her flying above the skyline. I asked her how many jumps she could manage. She looked at me disdainfully and said, "Joe, who you talking to?" Meaning of course, if I needed her to, she could jump forever. Okay, fair enough. Then we got ready and she looked at me and said something along the lines of, "You know, Joe, my friends all try to take pictures of me leaping, and they always miss it." I looked at her. "Hey Arhima, who you talking to?" We both laughed. It was the confidence of the city speaking through both of us. I got a picture of her, flying high, seemingly above the buildings. Superwoman on the Brooklyn Bridge.