I haven’t had it in me this summer to take street photos in NYC. I went down for a day in June but then July got busy and I never made it back. I think the same thing happened last year. Then August rolled around. NYC has something they call “Summer Streets” the first three Saturdays of August where they close down Park Avenue to traffic and open it up for bikers, walkers, joggers, and skaters. I throw a backyard BBQ every year on the first Saturday in August so that’s out but I’ve made it down the second Saturday in August for the last few years to take photos of all the action. For whatever reasons I wasn’t up for doing that this year and then that second Saturday became a rainy day so I opted out for sure. That left just one more City Streets Saturday.

I made it down to NYC that third Saturday. I somehow motivated myself to get on the train and head in. I still wasn’t feeling it but I went anyway. Usually I get off the train at Penn Station at around 10:30 AM and catch a train back home at about 3 PM. All the time in between I’m taking street photos. As I got off the train I walked east over to Park Avenue taking some photos as I went but I was mostly moving quickly until I hit the Summer Streets.

I still wasn’t feeling it. I don’t even think I walked as far as I usually do. I hung out around 34th Street for a while and then walked down to about 27th Street. Usually I go another ten blocks or so downtown to where there is a gathering point but I get better photos where it’s more open so I skipped that this year. I eventually turned north and made my way up to 42nd Street and Grand Central Terminal. All this took me until about 12:30 and I was taking photos the whole time.

My next step, as usual, was to go over to the steps of the Midtown Library and Bryant Park. There were the usual tourists at the steps and I wandered among them taking photos but it was pretty robotic. There wasn’t much going on and I wan’t in the mood. On the other side of the library in Bryant Park there wasn’t not much going on either. The lawn was closed due to recent heavy rains and lots of foot traffic but there were some people around sitting at the tables under the trees. I took some photos but fewer than usual.

As I was walking near the Sixth Avenue entrance to the park I noticed there was a street fair going on uptown. They had Sixth Avenue closed off at 42nd Street and further uptown as far as the eye could see. I walked over that way. There were venders on either side of the street selling food, clothes, souvenirs, and trinkets of every conceivable kind. And a lot of people too. I wandered the center of the street taking photos all around me. I was finally starting to feel it.

“Feeling it” is not even about taking good photos. I wouldn’t know if I took any good photos until I looked at them later plus I’ve never noticed any correlation between my mood and the quality of the photos I take. I can take good photos when I’m feeling bad and bad photos when I’m feeling good. I was just happy to be feeling good as I was taking some photos. Feeling good really helps with motivation if nothing else. What can get me out taking photos is remembering feeling good when I was out taking photos before.

I finished taking photos at about 2:30 PM and started heading back downtown to catch my train home. I took photos along my walk to Penn Station and was pretty tired by the time I got on my train. Taking street photos takes a lot out of me. A lot of energy is burned. Though I make sure I eat and drink as I go I was extra hungry when I finally got home.

Usually my street photos sit in a folder on my hard drive for ages after I shoot them. When I want to post one on Instagram, make a digitally manipulated one, or make a finished photo in general I look through them and find one I like. But recently I’ve been making big ink drawings so I got the idea in my head to make a big photo collage. I haven’t made one of these in years so I was excited to get one underway.

I make my photo collages digitally but then I print out all the pieces, add adhesive to the back of them, cut them out, and them attach them to a big 22×30 inch piece of paper. I started making this one the next day after taking the photos which is about as fast as I’ve ever started one. It was fun working that big again. I kept a couple of the photos large and had to print them out on 13×19 inch paper but the rest of the bits fit onto 8.5×11 inch paper. It takes two or three days to make the digital file and another two to print, cut out, and assemble the physical photo. It’s not a quick process. I even alternated drawing a large ink drawing with working on the digital file. I found that moving in and out of the process helped me visualize what I wanted for the photo better.

I ended up making the photo about the “Summer Streets” portion of my day. I may not have been feeling it but I got good photos. Lots of action and crowds of people involving themselves in all kinds of physical activities make for good street photo subjects. Plus there are views from the middle of the street that I don’t get to take photos of very often.