Saturday, January 1, 2011

People, coffee, commonality, a tree, and New York City

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone who reads this blog from around the world enjoyed their New Years celebrations last night and that you're resting/recovering nicely today.  My first nap next to the fire on this tiring day is about to begin as soon as I hit 'submit' on this post to get it out there!  :-)

To date this blog has been visited by people in 74 different countries, and I think that's pretty cool.  I've received some nice email from people who have connected with it one way or another, and I hope it becomes even more widely read in 2011.  If you like it, forward the link to your friends!

As is true with most of the posts on this blog, this one is tied to photography (albeit loosely for this particular post today).

Every year, my wife and I take the kids down to New York City to do some exploring around the area of Rockefeller Center.  We see the giant Christmas tree, the windows of Macy's, Lord & Taylor, and Sachs 5th Avenue which are all decorated with Christmas scenes, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and just generally enjoy the good holiday spirit in the air.  This year, we also went to see the show Wintuk, which was very good and I would recommend.

The colorful set of "Wintuk"
I was shooting with my Canon S95 just trying to grab some nice scenes and some things occurred to me during the act of taking pictures that I thought were interesting to share here...

Taking a trip down to the city at this time of year isn't necessarily about just seeing the sights, having a nice dinner, snapping some photos, and going home.  On a deeper level it's about participating in an event with many thousands of other people and enjoying the common feelings that we all share around the holidays. 

The "Believe" sign on the side of Macy's on 34th Street
As we were walking around and I was in the process of taking photos and disappearing into my "world of photography" where I concentrate on what I'm doing, I began listening to people talking.  Not what they were saying, but how they were saying it.  The excited tones of their voices, the enjoyment, the laughter.  Adults, kids, teenagers, grandparents.  Everyone laughing, smiling, enjoying the moments, and tolerating the large crowds as we all hopped over slush puddles and snow piles from the recent blizzard in this area. 

The thing that really struck me were all of the different languages.  I don't know what they all were, but I heard some Spanish, French, Arabic, German, Japanese, and many more.  A very international crowd and a nice thing to see.  People from all over the world coming together in the area of a few small city blocks to celebrate the holidays....and all gathered around the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.  Smiling at it, taking pictures in front of it, pointing at it, and watching the ice skaters on the ice rink underneath it.

The tree, the 30 Rock building, and some holiday flags
I stopped taking photos just to watch the people for a while and I got a nice feeling inside.  This, I thought, is exactly what the holidays are about.  Pure joy.  The commonality that we all share no matter where we're from of enjoying the holidays with our family and friends, reliving old memories, making new memories, etc.

We went inside to grab a coffee for me and Jan and some hot chocolate for the kids.  As I was standing on this huge line to get the drinks, I continued to watch people come together over a simple  Sitting, chatting, laughing, and everyone was looking at their photos of the day.  Every year that we make this trip, I look around and notice more and more cameras.  Small ones, big ones, smart phones, etc.  Whatever the size or type, everyone was taking and enjoying their photos.  Photography bringing people together, as it always has...

This is why photography is important in my life.  I honestly don't think I would have noticed many of these things unless I had been looking around for photo opportunities.  Actively looking around for possible photos, finding them, and taking them helps to open my eyes to what's going on around me and enjoy things more.  I see things in a different light, even if I'm not actually taking photos at that instant.  

As I was standing there I saw a sign that said "I lost a friend once.  Yesterday I found her again over coffee".  A nice sentiment about just sitting down to relax for a bit and talking with a friend or family member to reconnect.  Happy New Year!

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