The passing of time is a strange thing. Time keeps on moving forward no matter what we do. I was reminded of that yesterday as I went into New York City in order to go to Bryant Park and take some street photos. From about 2011 until 2019 I used to go down to Bryant Park in the summertime around once a month. As I did yesterday I went to take street photos. Then COVID hit.

As with most people when COVID hit I stayed home. That meant no more trips down to Bryant Park. After two summers of that things went a little bit back to normal but I didn’t get back to Bryant Park. I have no explanation as to why except that I just didn’t want to go.

I did take a lot of street photos over the last two years. I’ve been commuting into NYC two days a week and I walk down Seventh Avenue between Penn Station on 33rd Street and 14th Street taking photos as I go. I have taken uncounted thousands of street photos as I walked. But that is actually a different type of street photo.

It turns out that I’ve developed two different street photo styles with two different cameras. My original street photo camera is the Canon SX60HS. It’s a nice camera with a really big zoom on it so I can take candid street photos from far away. But it’s a fairly large camera. It’s not especially large and, for the zoom size, is compact but even though I carried it everyday on my commute I wanted something smaller and lighter.

In December of 2022 I bought a Canon SX740HS. The zoom isn’t as large as the older camera but it’s much more compact. It’s now the camera that’s always in my bag when I’m commuting. I take it out after I get off the train and take photos as I walk down the street.

Until yesterday, when I got back to using the bigger camera, I didn’t fully realize that I had developed different styles with the different cameras. The style of street photos I take with the smaller one is quicker. Since I have somewhere to be I can’t stop and contemplate the picture. Something has to catch my eye in a moment and I take a photo. Often I take a photo when nothing catches my eye because why not? It’s digital and not film so it doesn’t cost anything to take a photo.

It turns out that I’m not looking too hard at the photos as I take them walking down the street. Often I even take pictures not looking at the LCD screen. I have the camera aimed in a general direction and I generally know what I’m going to get. Commutes are repetitive and so is taking photos along the way so I’m not looking for anything special. I’m just looking. I’ll find special in the photos later on.

I also have developed a sub genre of these photos and that is the “Walking past stores” genre. As I walk down the street I aim the camera sideways and take photos through the windows and doors of the stores I pass. Taking photos of the reflections of store windows is nothing new but these are made a little differently. I’m not stopping to line up the perfect shot and each photo I take is slightly different because I’m taking them as I move by the store. That and I don’t usually shoot sideways.

So getting back to Bryant Park and taking photos got me back to shooting in a different style. I took a train into NYC that got me there at 10:30AM and I walked around and took photos until I caught a 3PM train out of the city.

As I got onto the streets and started walking up to Bryant Park and taking photos as I went the first thing I had to tell myself was to slow down. I wasn’t on a commute and I could take my time and find the photo I wanted. This took some adjusting. Habits can take over if you don’t think about them. It got me thinking about the differences in my street photo styles too.

One of the things I learned taking street photos is to rest. In my younger days I could go, go, go. Somewhere around 2014 I learned to sit down for about ten minutes out of any hour of taking street photos. Plus I had to drink a lot of water. I drink a lot of water on a normal day but I have to drink even more water on a street photo day. Otherwise I end up with a headache when I get home that evening.

When I sit down and take a rest I usually don’t stop taking photos. I try to find a good spot to sit that affords me nice views of the park and the people. That way my body can get some time off from walking but my mind can still keep going. I also wear a backpack with my camera stuff, food, and water in it so it’s nice to get that off for a few minutes.

By the way I learned those lessons when I was about 47. It’s hard to believe that I’m now 57 and I was 52 last time I went to Bryant Park. That’s a lot of time passing. In hindsight it seems like it all happened in the blink of an eye. That’s how time can be. These are the things that have been going through my head thinking about the park.

I’ve also taken street video along with street photos over the years but a new stabilized video camera (in December 2023) has upped my game in that area. Most of my hand held street video from years past is shaky. That’s the nature of hand held video. But I recently bought a DJI Osmo Pocket 3. It’s a small 3-Axis stabilized camera and makes my street video a lot less shaky.

As a result I’ve developed a street video style where I walk the streets of NYC, show the sites, and talk as I walk. I’ve been posting these on my YouTube channel.

I took three such videos while I was in NYC yesterday. The first was a walk around Bryant park, the second was walking up Sixth Avenue through a street fair, and the third was the walk from the park back down to Penn Station. I’ve only watched and posted the first one so far but I think they came out well.

It was a good day and it felt good to be back to shooting street photos with my older camera in my older style. Despite the fact that five years had passed since I last did this everything else seemed to have stayed the same. The park was still there, it was still filled up with people, there were a lot of tourists, and here I was taking photos. Time is a funny thing.