Photograph: The Other Side of the Lens
NY is a place where anything is possible. A city where there are surprises around every corner and where an event, that may be a little too out there for most places, is just another way for us New Yorkers to have fun. Newmindspace, created by Kevin Bracken in order to create bonding experiences among city dwellers, recognizes this. Thus “Photograph” was born.
I guess the most important thing about “Photograph” isn’t the where (South Street Seaport), the when (Sept. 19th), or the why (simply because). What’s most important is the “who”. Kevin noted the oft commented fact that Newmindspace events have such a large amount of photographers present that they almost outnumber the average participants! Why not, he thought, stage an event solely for them? Why not have a free for all where the main goal is to have photographers photograph photographers photographing photographers?! If this sounds somewhat confusing, allow the pictures to speak for themselves as they’re meant to.
It has to be said that this very idea is the photographer’s equivalent to Christmas or, you know, a huge sale at B & H Photo Video down by Penn Station. A whole event that allows us to indulge in one of our most secret pleasures i.e. photographing each other?! More than just a chance for fun, it was also a way for a community of individuals, who usually work alone, to come together and bond over their common love of “moment capturing”. A space where you could have a DSLR in one hand, a blackberry/iphone set in camera mode in the other, and a point and shoot hanging from your neck without anyone wondering when you escaped from Bellevue. After all, you were surrounded by folks who understood!
As with all Newmindspace events as well as other flash mob activities that happen here, there were the inevitable bystanders (tourists and locals alike) who were either confused or drawn into our antics. That happens to be one of the best things of all; watching complete strangers loosen up and be spontaneous.
One can’t be fooled into thinking that a bunch of strangers showed up, cameras in tow, and just started shooting each other without some semblance of awkwardness. Photographers, by nature, feel more comfortable on only one side of the camera. So for a good 15-20 minutes, we pretty much milled around in a concentrated area, giving each other the awkward side-eye as we wondered whether or not we truly wished to let our respective dork flags fly. It was finally a select few who threw caution to the wind and brought their camera up to their faces. “Photograph” had officially begun.
There were shared jokes and nods of understanding that, yes, we were oddballs but we were in NY and being odd was not only okay but encouraged. One participant came dressed as a Hasselblad camera while another sported a shirt that asked, “what the f-stop?” Before long, people were exchanging number, emails, flickr handles/screen names, websites, and facebook addresses. It was the most in your face networking I had ever seen and it turned out to be pleasant rather than chock full of pressure.
I’m not sure Kevin knows exactly what he’s done with this event but I feel, right in my trigger finger, that “Photograph” was only the first of many. After all, this is how we have fun, this is how we keep it fresh and blow off steam in the city that never sleeps. Or…is this why we never sleep?
Newmindspace: where Photograph and other projects are born