Jay B. Wilson Photography: Blog https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog en-us (C) Jay B. Wilson Photography [email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) Thu, 19 Oct 2023 13:48:00 GMT Thu, 19 Oct 2023 13:48:00 GMT https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/img/s/v-12/u414660069-o922681126-50.jpg Jay B. Wilson Photography: Blog https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog 90 120 Windansea https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2023/10/windansea




On August 22nd, 2023, the effects of the tropical storm were still in full force at Windansea Beach in La Jolla, California.  Surfers from around the world had converged on the area to take advantage of the storm swells. 


Armed with a 300mm zoom lens and and plenty of caffeine from our favorite La Jolla coffee shop, Rosemont's, I was ready to capture the action.


View the series "Windansea" here


Windansea is a legendary surfbreak and a stunning beach, with exposed, smooth boulders protruding from the sands.

WindanseaWindanseaWindansea Beach, La Jolla, California, 2018

It's one of my favorite spots in southern California, and offers a great vantage point for surf photography.


I've shot there dozens of times over the past few years, but this day was special - dozens of expert surfers lining up to test themselves on never-ending sets of breakers borne from the storm surge. This was not a day for the timid, and it was clear that the crew out on the water were some of the best around.


My approach to photographing this day was a bit unorthodox - I slowed down my shutter speed, allowing me to create intentional blurring to capture the raw energy of the waves while tracking each surfer's movement.  This resulted in the images you see in this series - which capture the raw skill of the surfers in their battle against the primal power of the ocean.


It's with great excitement that I introduce this series of limited edition images - titled, simply, "Windansea".  For printing, I knew I had to use Moab Slickrock Metallic Pearl - a shimmering, heavy weight paper that brings out the colors, energy, and detail of these images in a way no other paper could.  I also love that "slickrock" is a great way to describe Windansea beach itself.


I also knew that these images would look incredible as metallic prints under plexi - a sleek display, ready to hang.  The quarter inch of plexi layered over the photograph adds depth and dimension to the images. Prints on plexi come ready to hang, with a French cleat mount attached to the back - no framing required.  It's a great contemporary look for your home. 


All prints are signed and numbered en verso.


This limited edition series is now available in the following sizes:


12 x 18 inches print on Moab Slickrock: Edition of 25


20 x 30 inches print on Moab Slickrock: Edition of 15


24 x 36 inches metallic print under plexi: Edition of 3


I hope you enjoy viewing these photographs as much as I enjoyed creating them. And my thanks and respect to the Windansea surfers who put on such an impressive display on that day! 


View and purchase "Windansea" here

















[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) california la jolla la jolla surfing rosemont's cafe san diego surfing surf photography surfing surfing photography windansea windansea surf https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2023/10/windansea Thu, 19 Oct 2023 02:59:52 GMT
Figure Eight Island, North Carolina: A Visual Diary https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2022/9/FigureEightIsland Dune SunriseDune SunriseFigure 8 Island, NC

Figure Eight Island, North Carolina, sits just northeast of the growing, vibrant city of Wilmington.  A private, residential island, Figure Eight has no commercial structures, and is accessed via a gated bridge over the intercoastal waterway.  I've been fortunate to travel to Figure Eight for the past several summers, and I'm constantly finding new photographic inspiration there.

One of my favorite spots is the north end of the island in the early morning, especially at low tide. Walking quietly along one of the high-numbered beach paths (I like #30), one comes to a row of dunes, and up and over to the ocean.  (See the photo above, which was taken just after sunrise).

The north end is where the ocean meets the sound, or intercoastal waterway, which divides the island from the mainland of Wilmington.  At 7am or earlier, there is rarely another soul around, just crashing waves breaking left towards the sound, or right, against the gorgeous white sand beach, which glows gold in the low, early light.   I walk quietly, interrupted by, (or perhaps, interrupting) the occasional ghost crab.  My favorite moments are when a pod of pelicans appears, swooping low across the waves.  Pelicans are magnificent and tough - nobody messes with them, and despite their awkward appearance, their grace in those early morning hours, skimming the breakers, is a sight to behold. 

Figure 8 QuartetFigure 8 QuartetA pod of pelicans skims the waves in the early morning hours on Figure Eight Island.

The only thing better, in my book, than a quiet, gentle sunrise at the north end of Figure Eight is a stormy, dramatic morning anywhere on the island. A couple of years ago, a massive thunderstorm passed in the early hours, and when I got out to the beach, it was just offshore, creating an epic, almost extraterrestrial, feel on the beach.  I made the following photograph, "Higher Power" that morning.  Again, the low tide certainly helped this image, as the reflection of the storm clouds reflected beautifully off the wet sand.

Higher PowerHigher PowerSunrise, Figure Eight Island

While the storms are visually arresting, they certainly pose a threat to this low lying island, which has had it share of damage during hurricane season.  Almost every home is built on stilts, which serve as protection, and also elevate the views of the ocean and sound.  Still, one comes to Figure Eight for the sun and the surf, and a more perfect beach is unlikely to be found on the east coast.  Miles of white sand, dotted only by the occasional Shibumi Shade are perfect for biking, volleyball, and surfing.  And despite the summer heat, the steady ocean breeze means being on the "ocean side" is always a pleasurable way to spend the day.  The following image captures that feel.

Great Wide OpenGreat Wide OpenFigure 8 Island, NC

Another nice spot in the early mornings is by the docks of the Figure Eight Island Yacht Club, the only "commercial" establishment on the island. The yacht club boasts a pool, a lovely restaurant and cafe, and a basketball court.  Bingo nights at the club are popular with the kids.  But I like it for those early mornings when the sound is still and the boats are at rest.  On one such morning, I made the following image, which I titled, "Break on Through".

Break on ThroughBreak on ThroughSunrise, Figure Eight Island Yacht Club

As the sun begins to set on Figure Eight, it illuminates the many tidal pools found on the sound side, among the marshes, which I find visually arresting in the golden light. 

Golden Hour, Figure EightGolden Hour, Figure EightTidal pool reflection, Figure Eight Island

Sunsets on the sound side of the island are stunning, but it's after dark when Figure Eight gets quiet again, and I often walk along the beach until it's too dark to see.  The warm glow of a lit window just behind the dunes gives a sense of home and security against the pounding surf.

Dusk, Figure 8Dusk, Figure 8Figure 8 Island, NC

I hope you enjoyed this brief glimpse of Figure Eight Island.  To see more images, please take a look at my Figure Eight Island gallery in its entirety!


[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) carolina coast figure 8 island figure 8 island art figure 8 island home decor figure 8 island photography figure 8 island yacht club figure eight island figure eight island art figure eight island interior design figure eight island photographs figure eight island yacht club N.C. north carolina north carolina art advisor north carolina interior design wilmington wilmington north carolina interior design https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2022/9/FigureEightIsland Tue, 27 Sep 2022 18:52:57 GMT
Marfa Invitational - A Journey into Far West Texas https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2022/5/marfa-invitational---a-journey-into-far-west-texas " The view from the Lake Flato designed Perry Ranch outside of Marfa, Texas, as seen during a Marfa Invitational tourMarfa LightThe view from the Lake Flato designed Perry Ranch outside of Marfa, Texas, as seen during a Marfa Invitational tour

An island surrounded by desert.  That's how some describe the small ranching town of Marfa, Texas.  With a population of just under 2,000, Marfa is an unlikely destination for the art and fashion crowd from New York and L.A., but that's exactly what it's become. 


Why this little town? Marfa was founded as a railroad water stop back in the 1880’s. In 1971, the artist Donald Judd moved here and began to install his minimalist sculptures in the Chihuahuan Desert surrounding the town.  Although Judd passed in 1994, his legacy continues to draw artists and thinkers from around the globe.

Donald Judd bumper sticker in Marfa, TexasMarfa Love for Donald Judd

With this context, enter Marfa Invitational, an arts fair founded by Michael Phelan and now in its third year.  Unlike the closely scheduled and massive Frieze and Independent arts fairs in New York, Marfa Invitational attracts an intimate crowd, who are treated to a weekend of bespoke experiences to go with their dose of contemporary art, presented by a dozen galleries


Getting to Marfa is half the fun.  There are a couple of routes to take, one starting in El Paso, and one in Midland.  Marfa is, according to Google Maps, just under three hours driving time from either city. That said, that algorithm doesn’t account for the long stretches of empty, 80 MPH highway that lead to Marfa, so your drive might go faster. Flying into El Paso, one heads southwest along the Rio Grande, whereas the Midland route takes you south through the seemingly endless, dystopian landscape of the Permian Basin, the largest oil field outside of Saudi Arabia.

  The drive from Midland to Marfa runs through the Permian BasinSouthern CrossThe drive from Midland to Marfa runs through the desolate Permian Basin

This year, Kristin Peterson Edwards, the art and travel advisor, and I opted for the Midland entry point, and jumped in our rental - a red pickup truck, which felt right for the landscape.  Indeed, the truck came in handy later, when we explored the dirt roads of Valentine, an even smaller – population 134 – neighbor of Marfa.  (NB – Valentine is home of Prada Marfa – the famous art installation).  You’ll drive right by Prada Marfa if you’re coming in from El Paso, and miss it entirely when coming from Midland.

See my full gallery of fine art images from Marfa here

Arriving in Marfa, we checked into the Thunderbird Hotel – a favorite – and headed straight for the Invitational, a short walk away.  Everything in Marfa is a short walk away!  We took in work from the likes of Emma Stern, Charles Harlan, and Evgen Copi Gorisek.  Gorisek - originally from Slovenia and now living in Berlin - had just arrived in Marfa, his first trip to the U.S. Talk about culture shock.  Gorisek, who was represented in Marfa by Bill Brady Gallery, shared that his next stop after the Invitational would be New York City – sure to be another shock. Evgen Copi Gorisek at Marfa InvitationalEvgen Copi Gorisek at Marfa Invitational


Our favorite works were off the beaten path at Voltz Clarke Gallery, who’d set up shop in the Hotel Paisano down the block.  Voltz Clarke, which brought the incomparable Field Kallop to the Invitational last year and has been wowing New York with exhibitions from Holland Cunningham, Natasha Law, and Nigerian-born Uzo Njoku of late, once again made an impact in Marfa this year with Spanish painter Xevi Sola’s bold, figurative portraits.  The colors, form, and intimacy of the work was magnetic, drawing a viewer’s gaze even from across sleepy Highland Street. Xevi Sola at Voltz Clarke, Marfa InvitationalXevi SolaXevi Sola at Voltz Clarke, Marfa Invitational


Speaking of the Hotel Paisano,  the grandest building in all of Marfa, it’s where Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and Rock Hudson stayed while filming George Steven’s epic “Giant” back in 1955.  The film, known for being Dean’s last before his tragic death later that year, was ahead of its time in calling attention to the racial inequity between Whites and Mexican-Americans, and for Taylor’s unabashedly feminist character, Leslie Benedict.


Back to modern-day Marfa.  While VIPs at the Invitational were treated to nightly dinners by Chef Shawn Cirkiel of Austin’s Parkside, we were on our own for breakfast and lunch every day, and didn’t stray from our two standbys, The Sentinel and Para Llevar.


The Sentinel, which sits across a dusty street from the former Godbold feed The Godbold feed mill in Marfa, TXGodbold, MarfaThe Godbold feed mill in Marfa, TX mill – a visual delight – is the local Marfa newspaper and coffee shop.  Its chorizo breakfast tacos are as good as any we’ve had in Texas, and its beautifully curated shop provides its own visual delights while waiting in the rather slow moving – we’re-not-in-New-York-anymore morning queue.  A back garden provides a serene atmosphere to enjoy the crisp, cloudless Western Texas mornings. 


For lunch, as much as we’re tempted to try Marfa’s (admittedly few) other restaurants, we keep coming back to Para Llevar, on the south side of town.  The south side of town means that it’s about 200 feet from the north side.  The upscale deli’s wood fired pizzas are the popular choice here, but we keep coming back to their meatball sub, which is quite likely one of the best sandwiches this side of Katz’s Deli.  Again, a back garden filled with flowering cacti and picnic tables, along with a much needed touch of shade, is simply one of the prettiest spots in town.

Para Llevar for lunchPara Llevar for Lunch

Marfa Invitational keeps us busy between meals.  Phelan does a nice job curating a series of events for VIP attendees.  Among the best was a talk with Lake Flato, the renowned San Antonio architecture firm.  But not only did we get to hear Ted Flato talk about sustainable design, we drove out to the Perry Ranch, a Lake Flato designed contemporary home surrounded by the vastness of the desert, with views of the Davis Mountains to the north and Mexico to the south.  Invitational guests sipped cocktails while having free range around the house, and we were lucky enough to get an impromptu tour from owner Ashlyn Perry.  I can’t say enough about the house and its owners, but if you want to read more, it was recently featured in Architectural Digest.


Among the Invitational’s returning guests was artist Lacey Dorn, who paired nicely with Suzanne Deal Booth to give a fascinating talk on influential Texas women, from Ann Richards to Simone Biles.  The talk was timely given the current attacks on womens' reproductive rights in this country and particularly in Texas. Dorn and Booth pointed out that while Texas politicians have been leading the charge on these attacks, it was also a Texas lawyer, Sarah Weddington, who won the landmark Roe v. Wade case.


Dorn returned to perform “Anthropologists Anonymous” wherein she asked audience members to select images from her Instagram feed.  Dorn would then expound on the life challenges and successes she’d been facing at the time the image was posted.  Dorn’s openness and willingness to share the intimate moments behind her public photos was affecting, and her empathy towards herself as she recalled struggles was a discovery for both performer and audience.


Marfa offers a surprising array of shops worth exploring.  Our favorites include the eponymous The Marfa Store, whose owners – both artists and gallerists themselves -  are incredibly welcoming, Ranch Candy, which sells a lot more than its name implies, and Communitie Marfa, where we, having learned last year that sunscreen alone will not protect against the desert sun, picked up a crushable Stetson hat.  Also worth a quick 10 minute drive out of town, El Cosmico, a popular glamping spot with a killer gift shop.

Wearing a Stetson from Communitie at the Perry Ranch, Marfa, TexasWearing a Stetson from Communitie at the Perry Ranch, Marfa, Texas

Marfa Invitational, like other art fairs, inspires a handful of concurrent exhibits not officially affiliated with the event.   Photographer Douglas Friedman, who lives in Marfa, opened his show “Bad Hombres”.  The photographs, a tribute to the now-shuttered Mexican restaurant of the same name, was one of the highlights of the weekend.  Leo Villareal, whose mother, Jane Crockett, is the great-granddaughter of one of Marfa’s original ranchers, Lucas Brite, held a show of his generative NFT work, which was fascinating.  Finally, tucked away behind the local Dairy Queen, an eclectic group show included a couple of drawings by the British writer Anthony Haden-Guest – the 85 year old was himself sketching on the porch in the 95 degree heat.


The Brite Mansion hosted a dinner for Invitational attendees, hosted by Yvonne Force Villareal, who co-founded the Art Production Fund, responsible for the iconic Prada Marfa installation mentioned earlier.  On display at the mansion was a series of new works by photographer Will Cotton, who’d studied his cowboy and unicorn subjects at local rodeos.


Speaking of cowboys, it was the cowgirls who ultimately stole the show at Marfa Invitational. Designer Cynthia Rowley staged an The Cynthia Rowley show at Marfa Invitational featured real cowgirls from local ranchesCowgirls in PinkThe Cynthia Rowley show at Marfa Invitational
epic fashion show at an incredible venue, the Valentine in Valentine, a restored saloon and event space. Rather than fly in models from the coasts, Rowley enlisted cowgirls from nearby ranches to wear her collection on horseback.  The visual impact of the cowgirls (yes, they self-identify as such) in hot pink gowns galloping and kicking up dust as Marfa Invitational VIPs mingled with local ranch families was a fitting final sendoff to a memorable weekend.


If you want to explore Marfa for yourself, we can’t recommend it highly enough, although it comes with the caveat that one should travel there en route to somewhere else (like Big Bend National Park, which lies to the south), or when you know an event like Marfa Invitational is happening in town.


Otherwise, establishment openings may be spotty. We spoke to one bar owner who’d come into town to open his place just for a single day.  He told us he was trying to hunt down some beer for the bar. To do so, he’d been told by the distributor to try to “flag down our truck if you happen see it”.


That’s Marfa for you!

If you’d like to see more of my images of this magical little place in the middle of nowhere, you can find my full gallery of Marfa photographs available for sale here.


[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) anthony haden-guest anthropologists anonymous art production fund bad hombres bill brady gallery charles harlan communitie marfa cynthia rowley donald judd douglas friedman elizabeth taylor emma stern evgen copi gorisek giant godbold holland cunningham hotel paisano james dean kpearts kristin edwards kristin peterson edwards lacy dorn lake flato leo villareal marfa marfa art marfa food marfa hotels marfa invitational marfa invitational 2022 marfa photography marfa poster marfa travel michael phelan natasha law para llevar parkside austin permian basin prada marfa ranch candy rock hudson shawn cirkiel suzanne deal booth texas the marfa store the sentinel marfa things to do in marfa thunderbird hotel tx valentine voltz clarke will cotton xevi sola yvonne force villareal https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2022/5/marfa-invitational---a-journey-into-far-west-texas Thu, 19 May 2022 22:59:47 GMT
Cold and Stark https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2014/2/cold-and-stark After yet another snow storm here in the NYC area last week, I decided to grab my weatherproof Pentax DSLR and head down to the beach.  Although I'm beginning to despise the cold and snow, I knew that a walk along Connecticut's scenic coastline might restore my faith in Mother Nature's ability to deliver beauty along with torment.

And I wasn't disappointed.  Tod's Point in Old Greenwich, CT, formerly a Siwanoy Indian fishing camp, is now a public park with acres upon acres of hiking trails, pristine beaches, and rocky outcroppings along Long Island Sound.  It is truly a magical place, in any season.

Here are some of the images I was able to make that snowy afternoon. 


tod's point, old greenwich, ct, in winterWinter's Bones - Tod's PointWinter at Tod's Point, Old Greenwich, CT kayaks at tod's point, old greenwich, ct, in winterWinter Respite - Tod's PointKayaks in the snow at Tod's Point, Old Greenwich, CT tod's point, old greenwich, ct in winterAfter the Storm - Tod's PointA snowy scene at Tod's Point, Old Greenwich, CT

[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) beach ct greenwich greenwich point jay b. wilson long island sound old greenwich photographs photography snow tod's point trees winter https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2014/2/cold-and-stark Fri, 14 Feb 2014 18:55:13 GMT
5 Tips to Introduce Photography to Your Kids https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2013/11/5-tips-to-introduce-photography-to-your-kids No, you don't want your six-year-old using your DSLR - yet. Are you shopping for a camera for your child this holiday season?  Do you want to introduce your daughter to the wonders of photography, without sacrificing your fragile iPhone or pricey camera in the process?  I've been there - watching lovingly while my kids get so much enjoyment taking "selfies", creating videos of Barbie dolls and train sets, and learning to document the world around them.

With all the junk out there this holiday season, a camera is a relatively inexpensive gift that will last for years, while providing hours of education and creativity in kids as young as two years old.  I got my daughter started at that age, and while she tends to prefer hyperactive videos at the moment (she's now six), she's taken some pretty impressive still shots as well.  An avid swimmer, she particularly enjoys shooting underwater with a waterproof, shockproof camera I got her for her third birthday. 


Before you get started, here are five tips for introducing your kids to the amazing world of photography:


1. Avoid "Toy" Cameras  - There are a lot of toy cameras out there, and while they may seem like an easy choice for your child, I'd caution you on most.  They tend to take extremely poor quality images - something they might have lived with ten years ago, but if your kid has experimented with your smartphone camera, she's going to be disappointed.   Yes, they've got princesses and superheros plastered all over them, which may get you some big smiles when they're unwrapped, but kids aren't dumb - they'll lose interest quickly if they can't really enjoy the images they create.   And you'll be frustrated too, trying to explain why that photo of the cat they worked so hard to get looks like a furry smudge.

2. Go for Durability - Any camera you get for your child is going to get dropped, stepped on, thrown, and generally mistreated.  Yes, you want to instill a sense of responsibility and care in your child, but if you teach him or her to treat their camera like a delicate flower, with constant admonishments to "be careful!" they're going to be afraid to use it.   One of the most important considerations for pro photographers when choosing a camera is feeling comfortable with it in our hands and having a good "build quality" - it's durable and will stand up to constant use.  Take it a step further with your child's camera and choose a water-proof, shock-proof model.  Not only will this give you peace of mind your investment won't be listed on eBay for parts by New Year's, your child will be able to take it to the playground, to the beach, and even in the water, which will open up creative possibilities they wouldn't have if the camera had to stay home.  I particularly like the Nikon Coolpix S31 - which comes in a variety of colors (yes, even pink!) is waterproof to 5 meters, and takes HD video.  Best of all, it's less than $100. The Nikon Coolpix S31

3. Get Them Inspired - One of my favorite bedtime activities with my daughter is to scroll through my Instagram feed looking a photos from around the world.   She's developed a specific taste in styles and subjects - she despises black & white - and loves recognizing locations and photographers she's familiar with.  Share the photos that you're taking - of family events, vacations, and more - preferably on the big screen of your computer or television, so that your child gets the full effect of what a powerful image can be.  Take her to a photography museum like ICP, or a local gallery in your town.  Find some fun photography books like Underwater Dogs at the library or bookstore.  Stoke your child's imagination with the possibilities of their new camera, and they'll have a head start on creating beautiful images.

4. Print! - Sadly, with the proliferation of social media and smartphones, printing photographs is done less and less frequently.  But there's something about holding a photograph in your hands, or hanging it on a wall, that makes the process so much more fulfilling.  Children love to make stuff, so don't let that memory card fill up and sit in a desk drawer somewhere.  Whether you use a home printer (I love the Canon Pixma series), a local drugstore,  or a professional lab like Adoramapix in NYC (yes, they ship!) I really think it's imperative that you DO something with those photos.  Let her decorate her room with framed photos that she's taken herself.  Let your preschooler take some 4x6 prints from his holiday break for show and tell.   And with photobooks, prints on canvas, and other photo products, the possibilities really are endless.

5. Don't Push It - You've bought the perfect camera, made prints of your child's work, encouraged her to bring it along on vacation.  But she's just not taking to it as you had hoped.  Don't force the issue.  In my experience, trying to force a new hobby or interest on a child who isn't receptive is doomed to failure, and may close their minds to other experiences.  Perhaps he'll never develop an interest, but maybe it's just not the right time.  Conversely, if he takes to photography like a fish to water, encourage him.  Lots of schools and community centers have photography classes for kids as young as kindergarten.  As with any skill, photography takes lots of practice - the sooner you start her off, the sooner you may have the next Vivian Maier on your hands.


[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) best camera for child camera camera for child child's camera children's photography instagram iphone kid's camera mobile photography https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2013/11/5-tips-to-introduce-photography-to-your-kids Wed, 27 Nov 2013 23:45:26 GMT
More of the Little Ballerinas https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2013/7/more-of-the-little-ballerinas A while back, I told you about the amazing time I had photographing students from the First Position Dance ballet school in Bronxville, NY. This is a relatively new school, run a good friend and incredible teacher, Ana Dimas.  We did our shoot at the Bronxville Women's Club, whose gorgeous ballroom provided an elegant backdrop for the session.

Last month, I returned to that ballroom to photograph Ms. Ana's students in their first recital.   I arrived about an hour before the show, which allowed me to photograph the three-to-six year olds as they prepped for their stage debut in front of parents, grandparents, and siblings.  Although I expected most of the girls to be a bit nervous, they mostly seemed excited, and it was clear as the awaited thir big moment that they had developed close friendships with their classmates and teachers.

ballerina The costumes were by far the nicest I have seen at one of these events - colorful but understated.  You really can't go wrong photographing this type of scene, especially when it's executed as flawlessly as this one was.  I especially appreciated that the girls, rather than waiting backstage for their dance routine to begin, were seated on the floor in front of the stage, allowing me to 

capture many candid moments as they watched the others dance.


At the end of the show, the parents surged forward with flowers for their little ballerinas.  Ms. Ana beamed as a tiny dancer handed her a bouquet.  This is the stuff memories are forged in.  I hope to be present for many encores of these moments to come...







[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) arts ballet bronxville dance event photography first position dance ny photographer photography portrait photography recital https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2013/7/more-of-the-little-ballerinas Wed, 24 Jul 2013 01:38:56 GMT
Upcoming Events https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2013/6/upcoming-events It's finally summer (and man, it felt like it last week in NYC) which means a lot of upcoming arts events, sidewalk sales, and other shows where I'd love to meet you.   Of course, I'll continue to be down at South Street Seaport for Fulton Stall Market, which is a great little artisan market with gourmet foods, skincare, jewelry, and other products.   Also upcoming: The Greenwich Sidewalk Sale in Connecticut, where various crafts vendors will join the high-end shops on Greenwich Avenue for four days of shopping and entertainment. Fulton Stall Market, New York City


Here are some upcoming dates:


Sunday, June 23rd - Fulton Stall Market - New York, NY

Sunday, June 30th - Fulton Stall  Market - New York, NY

Thursday July 11th - Sunday, July 14th - Greenwich Sidewalk Sale - Greenwich, CT

Sunday, July 28th - Fulton Stall Market - New York, NY


Hope to see you around, and enjoy your summer.  As always, I'm available for family portraits and events throughout the summer.  




[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) art fulton stall market greenwich sidewalk sale greenwich, ct jay b. wilson photo jay wilson photo new york city shopping https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2013/6/upcoming-events Wed, 12 Jun 2013 21:27:22 GMT
Family Immortal https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2013/5/family-immortal On a recent trip home, my mother pulled out a stack of family photographs she had recently received in the mail from her sister in California.  Although there were only a handful of worn, faded, and creased images, the pictures had an immediate, visceral effect on me - there was my grandmother, who I had never really known - standing in Central Park on a winter day.  Her flapper-style outfit, fur coat and all, immediately places her in the 1920's, when she was studying at the Academy of the Dramatic Arts on Madison Avenue.

My grandmother in Central Park, NYC, 1926 Could she have  imagined that eighty years later, her grandson would be a tour guide in the Park, and would pass by the Academy nearly every day?  

The photograph gave me a deeper connection to my grandmother in the moment it took me to view it than I had ever felt in my first forty years.  And from nearly no memory of her (she died when I was young) I suddenly had a lasting image that I doubt I will ever forget.  And whenever I walk through that part of Central Park, I will think of her on that cold winter day in 1926.

As I write this, the Chicago Sun-Times has just laid off its entire photography staff.  We'll just have the reporters take pictures, they said. And while the news is not shocking by any means, it is sad.   Among those let go was Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer John H. White. 

Now, the photograph of my grandmother is by no means Pulitzer-Prize-winning in quality, nor was it likely made by a professional.  But the argument made by the Sun-Times - that non-professionals will now be responsible for documenting the most important events in that city - is a similar one to what family and portrait photographers have been hearing for years now - why pay a professional when an amateur - mom or dad, say - can do a "good enough" job?

And certainly, some of the most lasting, precious images of your children will be the ones you make yourself.  And that's why I always strive to educate my friends, family, and clients on how to make their own pictures better.  But the reality is that, too often, other responsibilities get in the way of making truly lasting images.  

Family Portraits

The Sun-Times reporters will report first, the photographs an afterthought. Parents have enough going on - with full time jobs and after-school activities and planning meals -  to truly spend enough time mastering the craft of photography or even to spend enough time practicing it.   And when they do make a photograph worth keeping, it's too often left on a memory card or gets buried deep within a Facebook timeline, never to see the light of day. 

If you want images you'll want to frame and put on your wall for all to see, photographs that will be handed down to future generations, pictures to last a lifetime and beyond, then hiring a professional is still the way to go.  He or she can capture those moments that otherwise will pass by before you know they're gone.  And create memories, really, to supplement the fading ones down the road, or bring a connection where none existed before.  





[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) central park chicago sun-times family photography family portrait photography john h. white new york city professional family photography https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2013/5/family-immortal Fri, 31 May 2013 03:06:51 GMT
NYC Baton Redux https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2013/3/nyc-baton-redux On March 15th, I had the honor of carrying the NYC Baton on Instagram for a second time.  If you aren't familiar with the Baton, it's the brainchild of New York City photographer John de Guzman, who came up with the idea for a shared Instagram account, passed between New Yorkers, who use it to share their day with followers near and far.  

And the audience is growing.  When I first carried the account, it had just surpassed 1,000 followers.  After quite a bit of publicity, including a forum that John, myself, and several other Baton-ers participated in at the 1197 Conference here in NYC during Social Media Week, it's up to about 3,500.

So the pressure was on when I logged into the account the morning of the 15th.  That, plus a rules change from John - you're only allowed to post seven photos during the course of your day.  My first time, I posted twenty or more.  

But such limits do make you focus more on what you choose, or choose not, to share.  I think it's improved the overall quality of the images, and poses a challenge that's useful in our photography in general.  As photographer Scott Bourne admonishes:

"Know WHY you're about to trip the shutter button before you do it.  If you can't answer the WHY question, don't make the photo."

Sound advice, especially in the digital age when it's much too easy to shoot away - "spray and pray" - without putting a lot of thought into composition, light, and subject matter.  So John's rule makes sense, especially when considering that he really believes the NYC Baton is as much a tool for the photographer as it about content for the audience. 


[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) instagram iphone iphoneography mobile photography new york city nyc photography https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2013/3/nyc-baton-redux Thu, 21 Mar 2013 19:54:39 GMT
Looking for Liberty https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2013/3/finding-liberty The other night I attended the opening of "Journey of Justice: Looking for Liberty" at Concordia College's Osilas Gallery in Bronxville, NY.  The show features a collection of works from Tom Block's "Human Rights Painting Project" paired with an array of photographs of the Statue of Liberty by a friend of mine, Lisa Sorensen.

Lisa hired me to shoot the opening reception, a difficult proposition given that I was quickly enamored of her work, and fascinated with her talk on the process she used to photograph the Statue and print the resulting images.

Lisa's final work, which ranges from glicees mounted on brushed metal, prints on beeswax, and more, ranges from iconic views of Lady Liberty, with the delicate pastel skies of early morning over New York Harbor, to incredibly detailed closeups of the statue's hands, torch, and crown.  The richness and luster of the images is incredible seen up close, the work made more impressive by the lack of any Photoshop magic.

Lisa's series of photographs, which originated as a private commission, were shot from a chartered helicopter.  Lisa spoke fondly of the pilot, a photographer himself, who was excited to take an artistic flight - a departure from his routine of carrying business executives and tourists around New York.   At times, they got within 500 feet of the copper lady, giving us a perspective rarely available.


If you're in the area, I highly recommend stopping by Concordia to see the exhibit, which runs through April 5th.  And it's certainly worth the 30 minute Metro North ride from Manhattan.  You simply won't find more powerful, moving images of Lady Liberty anywhere else.  



[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) art bronxville concordia college immigrants immigration journey of justice: looking for liberty lisa sorensen osilas gallery painting photography statue of liberty tom block https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2013/3/finding-liberty Sun, 03 Mar 2013 03:07:49 GMT
Top Ten Tips for Mom (and Dad) Photographers https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2013/1/top-ten-tips-for-mom-photographers Family Portraits We're taking more photos of our kids than ever - after all, the ubiquity of camera phones mean that whether it's on the playground, at an ice cream shop, or during a ballet recital, a camera is usually no further away than a pocket or a purse.

But are you making the most of those Kodak moments?  Do most of your photos disappoint you, and wind up forever tucked away on a memory card or on your iPhone camera roll?  Do your Facebook profile pics really show off your gorgeous kids the way you know them to be - full of personality, energy, and wonder?

A couple of recent books - "Envisioning Family" by renowned family photographer Tamara Lackey, and "Secrets of Great Portrait Photography" by Pulitzer Prize winning lensman Brian Smith, aren't geared towards amateur photographer, but they offer some great tips on portrait photography that I believe, combined with some of my own experience as a family photographer, will help take your snapshots of your kids to the next level.

So without further ado, here are the Top Ten Tips for Mom (and Dad) Photographers:

10.  Get down on your knees  No, not to beg your kids to sit still, but to get on their level.  There's nothing worse than a bunch of 

photos of a toddler taken from five feet overhead, with all the mess of a trashed playroom encircling the little one like Geoffrey the Giraffe threw up all over the place.  And - ugh! - you can't show those pics to anyone, because look at what a mess the house is! I can't tell you how much cropping I've done at my wife's request.  As famed photographer Robert Capa once said, "if your photos aren't good enough, you're not close enough."  Or, as Smith says, "find the right angle" by getting down to your subject's eye level, or even shooting up at them, using the ceiling or the sky as a seamless backdrop. 

9.  Don't pose your kids.  First off, it never works, does it?  They get skittish and bored and those "awww...Mom!" looks are guaranteed not only to ruin the photo, but perhaps the rest of your afternoon.  Instead, do what I do, and candidly take photos of your kids while they're otherwise distracted while playing, reading, or...gasp...even watching TV.  One of my favorite shots of my daughter gets people saying "wow, she looks so contemplative, so deep in thought!" If they only knew she was watching Dora the Explorer when I took that one.

If you do want some structured shots of the kids with each other, or with grandma, use some of what Lackey calls "organic directive posing" - a technique that's difficult for even the pros to master, but essentially boils down to setting up a shot between, say, two siblings, but rather than having them focus on the camera, having them interact with each other.  This is how you get great expressions out of your kids, because they're behaving naturally rather than feigning smiles for you. 

8.  Make group photographs fun. Another approach to posing comes from Smith, who eschews the "shoulder to shoulder" group posing most of us are all to familiar with in those Sears Portrait Studio images, and instead creates some theater around a group shot.  He calls it "Creating a Cooler Reality." Spread the kids out a bit, have one playing with a favorite toy, while another plays the piano and dad reads the paper, for a  humorous and memorable shot.  Not only will the kids buy into the "photo shoot" you'll get some great expressions and yours will definitely not be the typical Facebook cover photo or holiday card.  Speaking of cards, I can't think of a better example of this concept than photographer Ryan Gibson's recent holiday card.

Family Portraits 7. Mix it up. Smith also talks about using unexpected props, backdrops, and unexpected in his images of sports stars, Hollywood A-Listers, and Wall Street CEO's.  He posed Richard Branson in a spacesuit on a beach, put a race car driver in full uniform in his kitchen, drinking coffee, you get the idea.  I'm not suggesting you photograph little Mikey in a church with his baseball cleats on, but photographing your kids against a rich brick wall, on a ride at an amusement park, or in your office chair (especially if it spins!) can create an impactful portrait by combining putting that familiar face in a less familiar setting. 

6. Get your kids interested in photography.  Let them take pictures with your camera phone or inexpensive point-and-shoot.  The more they understand and enjoy taking pictures themselves, the more they'll be interested in being the subjects of your photos.  My daughter went from hiding from my camera to becoming a real ham in front of the lens once she learned how to take her own pictures at the age of two.  Better yet, get your child her own camera. Most of the kids' cameras on the market are, frankly, pieces of junk - I'd recommend a durable, impact and water resistant camera like the Nikon Coolpix S30....which you'll find a worthy camera to own for yourself while not worrying about your three year old dropping it in the toilet.  

5. Get to know your own camera.  Professionals like Lackey use a camera like an extension of their own eyes - they know every feature, function, and setting and can adjust them on the fly, no matter how quickly her subjects are moving around.  You may not be a professional, but her advice to "understand how your camera works to appreciate all the power you have at your fingertips" holds true for even the casual photographer.  Read your camera manual, and then read it again.  Even the simplest digital cameras and camera phones have powerful features that, once you become familiar with them, will take your images up more than a notch. 

4. De-clutter - if not your house, your photos.  When shooting, get the "head in an empty spot" says Zack Arias, a 

commercial and music photographer.  Especially when photographing kids in our homes, the background can be pretty 

busy and distracting.  Try to at least get your little one's head in front of an empty wall or open window, to bring the viewers eyes directly to your child's face.  Thomas the Tank engine and Elmo can photo bomb as badly as your tipsy friend Kelly at happy hour.

3. Photograph them in action.  Your kids are hyper, aren't they?  Capture the running, jumping, swimming, leaf-diving moments while you can - soon enough, they'll be teenagers who can hardly be extracted from the couch.  A great technique for showing action is panning, and while it can be difficult to master, the idea is to move the camera with the running/leaping/swimming child, which blurs the background and conveys a sense of movement.  Fortunately, the default shutter speed on the iPhone is ideally suited for panning - hold down the shutter button (the button you use to take the picture) and don't let go.  Move the camera from left to right om time with your running child, let go about halfway through, which triggers the shutter - and, this is important - keep moving on the follow through.  It takes some practice to get the timing right, but the results can be spectacular.  If you're still using the default camera app on your iPhone, I highly recommend the free Camera+ app

2. Safety.  Turn off geo-tagging on your camera, if it has that feature.  Don't add a location to Instagrams and Facebook photos of your kids.   Make sure your Facebook profile is private, and don't Tweet images of your little ones, especially with identifying information.  And be aware of physical hazards as well - as Lackey says, while an urban shoot can add rich backgrounds to your photos, "be extra conscious of what you might find in those visually striking alleyways." 

1. Get the photos off your phone or memory card. Now that you're taking great photographs of your family, DO something with them.  From photo books to mugs to canvas gallery wraps, photos are meant to be seen, and not just on your little  iPhone screen.  You can't have too many photos of your family hanging on your walls or in your office.  Don't let them evaporate into so many accidently-deleted pixels.  Make them truly memories to last a lifetime.


What tips and tricks do you have for photographing your kids?  I'd love to hear your thoughts, experiences, and questions!



[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) brian smith child photography children iphone iphoneography panning parenting photographing kids photographs photography portrait photography tamara lackey zack arias https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2013/1/top-ten-tips-for-mom-photographers Thu, 17 Jan 2013 04:44:46 GMT
A Print is Worth 1,000 Instagrams https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2013/1/the-power-of-print Family Portraits Sure you took plenty of photos over the holidays - from Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve, the digital cameras and smartphones were going off like fireworks - there were 10 million images uploaded to Instagram on Turkey Day alone.


But what will happen to most of those photos?  They'll disappear deep into our Facebook timelines, or remain on memory cards or hard drives until they're lost or crash.  And frankly, in many cases, that's probably for the best.


But what of the countless images that captured a moment or a face or a hug that's worth preserving?  Those timeless memories that should last for years, if not beyond our own lifetimes?


Polaroid, the inventors of the instant film cameras that were ubiquitous when I was growing up in the 70's and 80's, has announced its plans to open a chain of "Fotobars" where you can print your smartphone photos in a variety of formats.  Bravo!  While Polaroid's execution and ultimate success of the venture is yet to be seen, it does bring the power of the print back into the minds of the millions who have fallen in love with Instagram and other digital-only photo sharing platforms.


As photographer William Lulow recently said, for traditional photographers:

"the print was the ultimate goal. From...Ansel Adams to W. Eugene Smith to Penn, Avedon, Halsman and the like, the goal was always to produce a great print."

And while the vast majority of photographic images made today will never see life on paper, the high quality photo print is still treasured - by brides who will thumb through their albums time and time again, and to many of my clients, for whom a printed image of their children on the living room wall is the ultimate heirloom, to someday grace the homes of the generations to follow. 


And there are plenty of other great options for bringing your favorite photos to the printed page -  photo books are a personal favorite, I often give them as gifts to grandparents, who appreciate the ability to see what everyone else is seeing on Facebook, and to share with their friends at the hair salon or visitors to their home.  

A photo book of Instagram images I recently made.


There's a gravitas, a permanence, and a beauty to a printed image that goes beyond the hundreds that flash past our eyes on Facebook and Twitter every day.  A 20"x30" framed, archival quality print in your living room becomes part of your daily experience, part of what makes your house home, and will be cherished by your kids and their kids.   If we spend so much time picking out the right photo for our Facebook profile, for our iPhone wallpaper, why not do the same for our dens and kitchens?


Let's not limit ourselves to photos of loved ones, either.  Whenever my family visits a new place - a beach vacation, for example, I often either seek out a print by a local photographer to take home and frame, or print one of my own to place on the wall - it brings those memories back to life every day.


I'm not talking about keeping shoeboxes full of 4x6's from Walgreens - that clutter isn't any better than the chaos on your hard drive.  I am talking about pausing for a moment, after a birthday party or anniversary or that Costa Rican vacation, and picking one photo - the best photograph you made, and making it into a print to frame and hang or put on your bedside table - a piece of you that will last a lifetime and beyond. 








[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) children facebook family family photography fotobar instagram iphone iphoneography photo books photo prints photography polaroid portrait photography smartphone william lulow https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2013/1/the-power-of-print Sun, 13 Jan 2013 04:59:08 GMT
On Location: Family Portraits on the Streets of New York https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/12/on-location-family-portraits-on-the-streets-of-new-york Family Portraits We've all seen tourists in New York City asking a stranger to snap a photo of them in front of Grand Central Terminal, on top of the Empire State Building, or in Central Park.  Perhaps you've been one of them.  Although New York City is one of the safest in America, there's understandably a moment of apprehension - is this guy going to run off with my camera?

I get asked to take photos of others quite often - probably because, with a professional DSLR over my shoulder most of the time, I look trustworthy and able to take a decent shot.  In fact, I occasionally offer, especially when I see a parent taking a photo of the rest of the family - wouldn't they rather all be a part of the memory?

So it doesn't surprise me that I've had more requests for family portrait shoots - not in a studio or in a quiet park - but right on the streets of New York City itself.  Rather than avoiding the congestion and noise of Manhattan, why not include it as an energetic backdrop to your family's portraits?  

Having done several of these over the past few months, I've developed a pretty good route, which allows for intimate family portraits with several of NYC's best-known landmarks in the background, in just over an hour.  Whether they are visitors looking to immortalize their vacation, or locals looking to capture the essence of what makes them New Yorkers, it's always a great time.  The parents are alleviated of the stress of getting just the right shot while corralling the kids, and the kids, in turn, seem to love the attention.  And indeed, when we're shooting on the sidewalks, plenty of heads turn, as otherwise harried New Yorkers stop to see who this paparazzo is stalking - is that Justin Bieber? (No, it's Andy from Des Moines, actually!)

Family Portraits

The end result are images that, if I do my job, highlight the interaction between the family members first and foremost, but that give an immediately recognizable sense of place, making those New York minutes truly last a lifetime.





[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) children chrysler building empire state building family portrait photographer grand central new york city new york city vacation nyc photography portrait photography travel photography https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/12/on-location-family-portraits-on-the-streets-of-new-york Sat, 29 Dec 2012 03:51:32 GMT
Condemned Behind the Lens https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/12/condemned-behind-the-lens  

Union Square New Yorkers have been in an uproar over the front cover of the NY Post yesterday, which I intentionally will not show here, and what it tells us about that tabloid’s editorial staff, the photographer who made the image, and about ourselves.

I refer, of course, to the now infamous incident in which a man was pushed onto the subway tracks at the 49th Street Station during an altercation, and was subsequently hit and killed by an oncoming train.  The image, which shows the victim, Ki-Suck Han,  staring helplessly at the train, has become a bigger story than the tragedy itself.

There should be no room for debate about the actions of the assailant, nor of the Post’s editors, who chose, in the name of sensationalism, not only to publish the image, but to pair it with the grotesque headline “Doomed: This Man is About to Die”.  

Both are to be condemned outright.

But what of the photographer, R. Umar Abbasi, who shot the image?  Was he, as some have insinuated, culpable in the vicitm’s death?  Was he so callous as to care only about getting the shot, and potentially selling it for profit, rather than exerting his efforts toward helping the poor man struggling to escape the tracks?  Or was he, as the Post dubiously reported, simply trying to warn the train’s driver of the impending danger by firing his flash?

The latter explanation seems contrived – a post-meditated defense of inaction, or rather, the wrong action.   From a logistical perspective, it would seem that, if Abbasi was only trying to send a signal, he would have been better served by firing his flash’s test button repeatedly than by actually pressing his shutter release, an incrementally slower action. 

No, I don’t think that’s a valid explanation.  But that conclusion is made with hindsight and a clear head, two things not available to the photographer at that moment. 

My educated guess is that he reacted to a rapidly escalating situation as any good news photographer does – by documenting it.  And I would also guess that, in the back of his mind - if anything was there at all - was the split second thought that he might document a miracle – a rescue, a tragedy averted.   A hero like Wesley Autrey leaping in to save the day.  That would be fulfilling work.  And if that had happened, he'd be on Letterman or Piers Morgan right alongside our hypothetical hero.  "What an amazing image to capture!  What quick thinking! What technical skill!"

But that’s not how it went down.  And now the photographer, rather than the recorder of a miracle, is the focus of our ire. 

It is, of course, possible, that all of the vitriol is deserved, that he coldly focused on the helpless man – framed his shot, and fired away, knowing exactly how it would end. 

But what about the others on the subway platform?  The now-infamous image shows an empty scene – not a person in sight – in Times Square.   Surely they cannot escape our outrage – or can they? 

They’re anonymous.  Nobody knows who they were, what they were thinking, what they were doing in those critical moments.  Were they running away?  Averting their eyes? Were they too, taking photos with their cell phones?  Photos that are now deleted, or stored away in shame?

Ansel Adams famously said “There are always two people in every picture – the photographer and the viewer.”   In this case, there were three.  But the photographer, whose presence was frozen in that image as surely as the victim’s, cannot escape our anger, because we know, from the simple existence of the photograph itself, exactly what he was doing as that train barreled down.

[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) 49th Street Station Ki-Suck Han MTA New York City subway Q Train R. Umar Abbasi new york post ny post subway hero https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/12/condemned-behind-the-lens Thu, 06 Dec 2012 04:40:27 GMT
One Thousand Words https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/11/one-thousand-words When Hurricane Irene hit last year, I covered the event for Bronxville Patch.  With my family safely ensconced on the third floor of a pre-war apartment  building, I grabbed my weatherproof Pentax K7 and headed out into the storm.  Bronxville suffers chronic flooding from the Bronx River, and Irene brought the expected deluge.  I took photographs of water breaching a storm wall, residents being evacuated by boat, and fallen limbs covering the roadways.   

In the end, an intense but fulfilling experience – feeling good that I played some small role in bringing informative images of the day to residents as they rode it out inside their homes.

When Hurricane Sandy approached last week, things had changed.  Although this storm was expected to be more intense, more “newsworthy”, I no longer work for Patch, having recently moved to Connecticut.   And while I had no responsibility to photograph Sandy,  I still anticipated trekking out with my camera to document her story for myself.

Yet as the storm closed in, it became clear that my responsibility was to my family and my new home – located just feet from a tidal river along the Long Island Sound.  We received a mandatory evacuation order on Sunday afternoon, and  I spent that night not charging NiCad batteries but filling sandbags.  And as Monday arrived, I drove my family to higher ground instead of photographing  storm preparations. 

That night, as news reports became more dire, I longed for that responsibility to photograph, but instead, I stayed with my house.  Yes, I was one of those idiots that I yelled at on news reports on stubborn, un-budging homeowners in harm’s way.  I shared text messages with neighbors about the rising water levels.  I watched trees overturn outside my windows, and held my breath as the old maple towering over our living room swayed with the increasing gusts. 

When Connecticut Governor Malloy announced, around 11pm, that the storm surge at midnight’s high tide was expected to be seventeen feet, and that he was ordering coastal towns to remove residents along the water, I decided not to wait for the National Guard, and grabbed my dog , my camera bag, and my flood insurance policy,  threw them in the car, and commenced a harrowing ten minute drive to a friend’s house further from the raging Sound.

As I stepped out into the wind, the acrid smell of burning rubber – from the exploding transformers flashing across the night sky – filled my nostrils, bringing me straight back to that terrible day – September 11th, 2001.  The odor was exactly the same, and my adrenaline raged.  Driving down our block, I saw a massive tree against a neighbor’s roof – the lights out – they must have already left for a safer place.  I watched the salt water barreling inland to my left, downed power lines on my right.  Just as I was convinced the next falling limb would land on my windshield, I found myself at my destination, wet dog, camera bag, and policy in hand, under my friend’s roof. 

My nerves frayed, we spent the night taking turns charging our iPhones on the generator, and scanning Twitter for local news.  When a text came from my neighbor at 12:30am - the tidal water was receding –our homes had been spared, I was able to sleep.  The next morning I returned, incredulously, to find our home unscathed, with electricity and Verizon FiOS working, to boot. 

But of course many were not as lucky.   After bringing the family home, we watched in shock at the destruction in Staten Island, Queens, and along the Jersey Shore.  And it was strange in the sense of what I didn’t feel as much as what I did.  I felt hope, and confidence that we would be OK – that really they, those that were hit so hard – would overcome.

In the end, I had taken not a single photograph of the storm, and frankly, I didn’t care.   There was a deluge of heartbreaking images and videos – certainly my lack of contribution was inconsequential indeed. 

Several years ago, I visited New Orleans for the first time.  Beyond being a photographer’s paradise – the nooks and crannies of the French Quarter – the beauty of the rolling Mississippi – I fell in love with the people, the vibe, the richness and passion that pervade everything and everyone in the place.   

And five days after I returned to New York, already planning my next trip, I watched as Katrina bore down on my new love and nearly wiped her off the map.  I felt no hope at that time – New Orleans had serious problems before the storm, and surely would not recover.   And our governments’ response was so weak – at all levels – that the obvious choice was to feel despair.

But this time it is New York (and its metropolitan area), the city I love more than any other, and I not only do I feel hope, I feel confidence.  This city has been through so much – 9/11 being the most recent example – and that tragedy impacted Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut as significantly as it did the city – and we prevailed and indeed thrived in the years following that dreadful morning. 

This is not to discount the horrific suffering occurring even as I write this, one week after the storm.  There are people – friends and loved ones – who are shivering and homeless at this moment.  There are others who have lost their homes, their businesses, and so much more.  I cannot, of course, put myself in their shoes, but nothing I have seen has shown me that they have lost their faith, their confidence, their hope. 

As we have so many times before – from the Great Fire in 1835, to the Draft Riots of 1863, to the dark, dark “Bronx is Burning” 1970’s, to 9/11, we’ve always come roaring back, stronger than ever.  We will again. 

And that comeback is something  I will photograph.  But for now, these 1,000 words are my picture of the storm. 

[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) hurricane hurricane irene hurricane sandy k7 new york city nyc pentax photography https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/11/one-thousand-words Tue, 06 Nov 2012 03:20:52 GMT
Innovation from the Heart: Henk van Kooten https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/10/innovation-from-the-heart-henk-van-kooten At the end of a long but inspirational day of seminars at WPPI U at The Javits Center on Wednesday, I walked into the last session, with Dutch photographer Henk van Kooten, unsure of what to expect.  I only knew that the title of his seminar, "Shooting Winning Portraits: From Cliche to Creativity" was appealing.  I'm not a huge fan of rigidly staged portraiture, although my position on the subject has been evolving.  

And while Henk's presentation over-delivered on its promise - he's doing some of the most visually stunning studio portraiture I've ever seen - it was the way he opened his creative process, and his heart, to everyone in the audience that left me nearly breathless.  

It's not often that a speaker, in any industry, will open his monologue by talking about being beaten as a child.  And not only did Henk do this, he made it relevant to the conversation by discussing how, having learned to read body-language at a very early age (is he in a good mood?  Is he about to hit me?) has made him a better photographer.  

Henk's approach to his clients was stated bluntly with the statement that "I make the photograph you need, not the photograph you want."  His clients seem to come to him, having heard powerful stories and seen his results, and put their portrait session entirely in his hands.  He told us about four young women who came into his studio for a group portrait.  One of the young women was dying.  Henk shot three faces looking at the camera, the fourth in profile, looking away.  

He told us about an image, shown earlier in his high-energy video introduction, of a woman, her face obscured by her long mane of hair flying wildly.  It had looked, at the time, like a commercial shot for a hair conditioner or a fashion label.  It was, he said, a portrait of a woman who had come to him the day before her first chemotherapy - she soon would have no hair at all.

Henk told us about a family - he had shot the couple's wedding, her pregnancies, their children.  She developed leukemia.  She was dying.  He photographed her family gripping her with their hands, holding onto her, holding her back from fate.  

He showed us that photography is not just about capturing light, it's about harnessing souls and making them immortal.  He simply blew us away, and the crowd of several hundred walked out not just better photographers, but better people.





[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) center henk van kooten javits pdn photography photoplus portrait photography portraiture wppi https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/10/innovation-from-the-heart-henk-van-kooten Sun, 28 Oct 2012 02:54:03 GMT
Giving Back with Photography https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/10/giving-back-with-photography The PDN Photoplus Expo in New York City is one of my favorite events of the year.  Widely known as the premier photography trade show in the United States, I've been going for the past four or five years, but have primarily just gone to the exhibition floor to check out the latest gadgets, printing services, and equipment on display.   It's always a great time - photographers tend to an extremely diverse and energized crowd, and naturally drawn to social media - resulting in tweet-ups, photowalks, and lots of live online coverage of the event. 

This year I decided to do a little more, so I went to a full day of training seminars before the show officially opened today.  Put on by WPPI - Wedding and Portrait Photographers International - the classes featured a range of business and creative themes.  

I avoided most of the wedding-specific classes (I don't do weddings) with the exception of Jerry Ghionis' opening seminar on "creating moments" which I figured would apply as much to the portrait work I do to as anything else.  And it did.  Jerry's hilarious, slightly edgy but incredibly effective approach to connecting with his clients, combined with his simply mind-blowing photographs kept us entertained for a full hour and a half.  Jerry tends to photograph very beautiful, very wealthy clients, but it was his story about photographing a less photogenic bride that was the most powerful moment of the morning.  Watching him, on video, connect with the woman, who was clearly upset about how she looked in her dress, and get her to expose her amazing inner beauty was a tear-jerker.  

And that was the start of a day whose most impactful moments were about giving back.  The young but world-famous commercial and entertainment photog Jeremy Cowart, who rather sheepishly spoke about touring with Britney Spears, focused rather on his humanitarian efforts in Haiti, Rwanda, and Uganda.  The amazing images he made in these ravaged places, photographs that reflect improbable hope and reconciliation, sets his work apart from the photojournalistic style that tends to dominate our views of those places. 


Despite the incredible impact those images have made - his Haiti photos were displayed for world leaders meeting at the U.N. to discuss aid packages for the country in the aftermath of the earthquake - Jeremy's most impassioned delivery was left for his work with Help-Portrait, a global initiative he started in his hometown of Nashville to give back to the community.  The idea is simple - find someone in need, take their portrait, print it, and give it to them.  Doesn't sound like much, huh?  Well, since its inception three years ago, the effort has resulted in nearly 16,000 photographers making almost 160,000 portraits for people in need - from the old woman who lives alone next door, to homeless in New York City, to sex workers in San Francisco.  The community of photographers has spread from Nashville to 56 countries worldwide. And the stories of the impact of a single image made of, and given to, somebody who otherwise would never have the opportunity to have a professional photograph of themselves brought most of the audience to tears.  

The event takes place on December 8th of each year - and I've already signed up to participate, as I'm sure most of the audience of photographers listening to Jeremy also did.  

After all of that positive energy from Jerry and Jeremy, we were left emotionally exhausted as we walked into Dutch portrait photographer Henk van Kooten's seminar.  A rocking video intro promised a more lighthearted, superfluous end to the day, but it turned out to be the most emotionally wrenching and powerful presentation of them all...

More on that next time. 

[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) haiti help portrait henk van kooten jeremy cowart jerry ghionis new york city philanthropy photography portrait photography rwanda uganda wedding photography https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/10/giving-back-with-photography Fri, 26 Oct 2012 03:23:08 GMT
Viva Neon https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/10/viva-neon I got it in, just under the gun.  About to turn 40 years old, I found myself in the somewhat awkward position of never having visited the nation's capital of excess, Las Vegas, Nevada. Fortunately, a business convention put me on a flight out of JFK last Friday, bound for Sin City.

My partying days long gone, the only trouble I was hoping to get into was the somewhat difficult task of photographing neon signs along downtown Las Vegas' "old strip" on Fremont Street.  While the larger than life casinos of "The (new) Strip" provided compelling photo opps, quite frankly, as a New Yorker, the faux pyramids, arches, and fountains along Las Vegas Boulevard were somewhat underwhelming.  And let's not even talk about the plastic-looking "New York, New York" hotel and casino.

I was more drawn to the vintage neon of Fremont Street, otherwise known as the "old strip".  Here, much smaller, hokier casinos are jammed next to each other in a kitschy paradise of 99 cent shrimp cocktails, open containers, and street performers.

Las Vegas - Fremont Street As I mentioned, shooting neon can be tough - exposure is easy enough, but the vibrant colors of the signs can often be tough to reproduce.  This is because each neon tube uses different chemicals to produce different colors, which can really throw your camera off.  Your best bet is to shoot in RAW format, if your camera allows it.  You can then adjust the colors in post-production.  If you don't have RAW capability, your best bet is to shoot on your camera's "florescent" setting - you'll get decent results.  

While I don't know that I'd go out of my way to return to Vegas, I'd highly recommend doing it at least once. If you're not drawn to the gambling or other vices, the photo ops make it a worthwhile destination.  

You can see more of my images from Fremont Street here.  And if you're looking for some great neon from NYC, Project Neon is a must-visit! 


[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) fremont street gambling las vegas photographing neon project neon sin city https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/10/viva-neon Sun, 21 Oct 2012 12:00:00 GMT
Running with It https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/8/running-with-it On Friday I "carried" the NYC Baton - a communal Instagram account - for 24 hours, sharing some images of my day and my observations on New York City with just over 1,000 followers.  It was fun - a bit tiring - and challenging to weave into a regular work day, but in the end, I had a great time.  

The lobby at 285 Madison Avenue, also known as The Murray Hill BuildingAfter taking a few shots of my ride into the city on Metro-North, my regular coffee guy, and our office lobby, the news of the Empire State Building shooting began to break.  One of my favorite shots from the day - and the one I believe was most "liked" by NYC Baton's followers, was a view of the Empire State Building from my office window, it's beauty belying the chaos on the streets below.

I wandered down to the scene, but didn't linger.  The rest of the day was less eventful - I was stuck in the office, but managed to get out at lunch and after 5pm to take some more shots - of The Flatiron, Madison Square Park, and finally back to Grand Central for the ride home.

You can see all of the images on NYC Baton's Tumblr, and if you're on Instagram, you should definitely give them a follow.  And kudos to Instagrammer John de Guzman, who came up with the brilliant idea to virtually pass the baton, giving us a new perspective on Gotham every day.  


[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) empire state building instagram new york city nyc photography https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/8/running-with-it Sun, 26 Aug 2012 22:32:38 GMT
Passing the NYC Baton https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/8/passing-the-nyc-baton With the Olympics in London over, we're still passing the baton here in NYC.  A virtual baton, that is, in the form of an Instagram account that makes its way from photographer to photographer.

The idea for NYCbaton came from Gotham Instagram God John DeGuzman, whose powerful images of the city have attracted over 25,000 followers on the popular social imaging platform.  And while John isn't the first to come up with a fun way to collaborate via Instagram - see the team over at Instagrits for example - his "baton" idea grabbed my attention immediately.

Basically, there's a single Instagram account, and every day (well, almost every day) a new NYC photographer takes over the feed and posts photos from his or her unique perspective and interaction with the city.  Started about a month ago, the NYCBaton account has nearly 1,000 followers, providing a great audience for photographers who long to have DeGuzman's reach.  

As John says, "over time we'll have a tapestry of windows on New Yorker's lives," - and that certainly has been the case so far - I've seen photos ranging from dramatic cityscapes to the mundane details of everyday lives - commutes, cubicles, and coffee breaks. 

If you're on Instagram, check out @nycbaton and give it a follow.  And do it soon - this Friday I'll be taking the baton for the first time.

Let's hope I don't drop it!

[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) instagram instagrammers instagrits john deguzman new york city nyc nycbaton photography https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/8/passing-the-nyc-baton Wed, 22 Aug 2012 02:16:16 GMT
Muscle Beach - When a children's portrait comes together https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/8/muscle-beach---when-a-portrait-comes-together Two weeks ago, I photographed a rock musician for an arts magazine.  As we walked along the Brooklyn waterfront, the looming cityscape of Manhattan forming a powerful backdrop, I thought about how much "easier" it is to make portraits of an adult versus young children.

The obvious reason is that adults actually take direction - if you're a parent, you know that most kids don't.   Sure, some kids love posing for the camera - my daughter's best friend literally lights up whenever a camera is pointed in her direction, but most of the time I do away with direction altogether, and just try to capture the kids candidly as they play and interact with each other.

Add to that the physicality of photographing kids - keeping up with them can wear you out, and the best shots are at eye level, which means you need to get down on the ground and roll around, and you've got to be quick - kids move fast.  You've got to get that perfect expression, the cute laugh, the look of wonder on the first shot, because it will be gone in an instant.  

Not so with adults - in most cases, you can simply say "do that again."

But despite the challenges, or rather because of them, children and family portraiture is probably one of the most rewarding, for both the photographer and the client.   When you see that you've got the perfect shot - the one that captures those little personalities in a split second of light, there's nothing better.  

This image, of my daughter and son, captures that moment for me.  The look on her face is one that might not be familiar to you, but holds so much for me and her mother - the impish smile, the look of self-confidence, the way she seems to be holding court over her little brother.  And the way he looks so happy just to be in her presence - all of these things will mean as much to us ten years from now as they do today.  

And that's the objective of good children and family photography - to capture those moments and those looks that look cute to the rest of us as outsiders, but hold so much more for parents and grandparents.  


[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) children jay b. wilson photo photography portraiture https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/8/muscle-beach---when-a-portrait-comes-together Sun, 19 Aug 2012 21:22:55 GMT
Manhattan Art Deco https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/8/manhattan-art-deco I'm not sure when I first came to love the Art Deco style of architecture...the Art Deco style of anything, really - but it was probably the first time I saw the iconic Chrysler Building.  Since that day, whenever it was, the style, which originated in Paris and became popular in the U.S. in the late twenties and 1930's, has always caught my eye.  The Chrysler BuildingThe Mighty, Mighty Chrysler

While there are great examples of Art Deco across the U.S., and I particularly love it's ubiquity in South Beach, Miami, the greatest example of the style - to me, at least - is the Chrysler.

275 Madison AvenueMad Men There are other examples across Manhattan, of course, especially in Midtown, not the least of which is The Empire State Building.  But lesser known examples abound, including several down in the financial district, including a personal favorite, One Wall Street (formerly the Irving Trust Company Building, and now the BNY Mellon Building).

Art Deco pervades many romanticized narratives of New York's golden years - the two seem intimately connected.  Indeed, the cover of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" includes Deco elements, and even today, the very New York comedy, "30 Rock" is set within one of Art Deco's masterpieces, Rockefeller Center - which I really need to photograph more.  One Wall StreetMonolith

I recently found a great resource for information about NYC's architecture called, well, New York Architecture.  You can search for buildings based on style, location, and more.  Well worth checking it out if you have an interest in the city and it's skyscrapers. 

[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) 275 Madison Avenue architecture art deco chrysler building new york city nyc one wall street photography https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/8/manhattan-art-deco Sun, 12 Aug 2012 12:00:00 GMT
Little Ballerinas https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/7/little-ballerinas When I was about eight years old, my mom and sister dragged me to a production of 'Swan Lake' by some regional ballet company in Springfield, MA.   I actually looked forward to it, but about 15 minutes into the performance, I leaned over and whispered to my mom:

"When do they start talking?"

Disappointed with the answer ("they don't") I sulked for the rest of the interminably long show.  And thus ended my association, in any form, with the ballet.  

Decades later, and I found myself hired to shoot a couple of ballet classes for a good friend, Ana Dimas, a ballet instructor in Westchester County.   Ana is a life-long dancer. She attended the North Carolina School of the Arts for high school and then attended NYU's Tisch School of the Arts for her degree in dance.  So she knows what she's doing, and has an amazing way with kids that imparts her passion for ballet on even the littlest of them.

While photographing the classes, I was struck by what a great art form ballet is for still imagery.  The curves of the human form, the gentle light coming in through the windows, the grace of it all was amazing.

I processed the images with a bit of color desaturation.  While my original vision was to go completely black and white, I found the lively colors of Ana and her dancers' outfits just too charming to remove completely.


Interested in classes for your little one?  Ana can be reached at [email protected].


[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) ana dimas ana r. dimas ballerina ballerinas ballet dance dance class photography swan lake https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/7/little-ballerinas Mon, 16 Jul 2012 19:45:20 GMT
Water Towers https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/7/water-towers Water towers, those antique-looking wood cylinders that dot the skyline of Manhattan, can provide fascinating visuals for a "Water Towers" by Jay B. Wilson photographer.  After a client purchased a print of this photograph, which I titled simply "Water Towers", she asked if I had any more water tank images available.  I did not, although I'm partial to Gary Heller's work.  Later that afternoon, walking through the Flatiron District, my neck was craned upwards looking for more.  

There are literally tens of thousands of these water tanks in the city.  Any building over six stories tall typically requires some type of water tower to supply its residents.   They work by simple force of gravity, and they aren't as ancient as you might think.  According to this article, while many are indeed old, even new ones (they have to be replaced every 30 years or so) have the same old wooden look, because they are unpainted and untreated so as not to taint the water.

Next year, however, they will get a more artistic treatment - beginning in the spring, The Water Tank Project will wrap 300 New York City water towers in artwork created by minds ranging from Jeff Koons to Jay-Z.

In the meantime, I'll keep looking up. 



[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) new york city nyc photography the water tank project water tank water tower https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/7/water-towers Sat, 14 Jul 2012 17:05:53 GMT
Avoiding a Meltdown - Children's Photography in the Summer Heat https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/7/the-heat-is-on  

Here in New York, we've had a blistering summer, with several heat waves of near-100 degree temps already, and it's only mid-July.  We can only cringe to think what August has in store for us.

I'll take the heat over the cold any day, but when the humidity maxes out, things can get pretty nasty.  Not the best scenario for shooting four kids and their mothers in a public park in White Plains, but certainly doable.  As most parents know, kids are actually pretty resilient when it comes to extreme temperatures, so as a photographer, I'm usually more concerned with the parents (and myself) than the little ones.  

Ideally, early morning or late afternoon, when cooler temps may prevail, is the best time for taking photographs of your kids.  The light is much better, as well - those high noon shadows can wreak havoc on your photos.  But children don't care about proper lighting, and nap times are more likely to dictate your scheduling than anything else.  

If you're going for a photo shoot outside on a hot day, an area with a lot of shade is key.  Although it makes lighting a bit trickier - the temps under a tree or gazebo like the one we had on this shoot, can be significantly cooler.   Be sure to bring along lots of fluids - water is best, as you don't want juice stains on junior's white dress shirt before the portrait session gets underway.   I usually bring a few extra bottles for the family I'm working with.  

On the subject of dress, unless the shoot is part of a wedding or formal event, like a bat mitzvah, keep it casual.  Not only will the kids be cooler, they're more likely to act naturally and have fun if they're in clothes they can easily move about in.  And the best shots are often of them rolling around in the grass, getting messy.  So yes, you might want to bring an extra change of clothes just in case.

Better yet, get those formal shots out of the way right off the bat.  While on milder days, I prefer to have the kids loosen up and get comfortable with me and my camera, but on broiling afternoons, it may be best to get the group shots before their patience wears thin and their brows are dripping sweat.   This may hold truer for parents, come to think of it.

Speaking of loosening up - what kid doesn't love bubbles?  That's why I usually bring a couple of bottles to an outdoor shoot - it gets the kids excited and moving around, and most importantly, takes their focus off the camera and onto each other, which will get you much more relaxed and natural expressions in those candid shots.   

For more tips on taking pictures of your kids, regardless of the weather, I highly recommend this "top ten" post on Adorama's website.

Oh, and don't forget the sunscreen...

[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) children kids photography portrait https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/7/the-heat-is-on Thu, 12 Jul 2012 01:29:13 GMT
Truly Grand https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/7/truly-grand Mercury Rising Grand Central Terminal.  First, let's get the nomenclature out of the way.  It's a "terminal", not a "station."  Why?  Because all of the trains that it hosts are either beginning or ending their journey there.  Unlike Penn Station, which is merely a stop along the Northeast Corridor for Amtrak, Grand Central itself is the destination - trains don't run "through" there.  

Of course, folks still call it a "station" and indeed some of the most famous references to it, including this incredible song from Mary Chapin Carpenter, do just that.  But enough with the nitpicking - let's talk about the Terminal's beauty.Cathedral - Grand Central

A masterpiece in the Beaux Arts style, Grand Central was completed in 1913, and remains largely unchanged today.  Yes, it went through some down periods in the sixties and seventies, when advertising filled the Main Concourse, historical details were covered up by ugly commercial uses, and the building itself was nearly demolished - only to be saved by the Supreme Court in 1978, after years of dedicated work by Jacqueline Onassis and other New Yorkers passionate about saving the building.  

After an extensive renovation was completed in 1998, the Grand Central we know and love today was reborn.  And it's that sense of rejuvenation that makes arriving at Grand Central every morning such an energizing event for me, personally.  I hear the same from others - no matter what mood you find yourself in - arriving on the Main Concourse may not make you suddenly happy and carefree, but it will damn well inspire you to keep your chin up, stride a little faster, and feel just a little more confident to face the day ahead.

Some of my favorite little aspects of the Terminal include the single dirty brick in the northwest corner of the roof of the main concourse - left as a reminder of how deeply the building had fallen into disrepair before the renovation.  Zaro's Bakery - with multiple locations throughout the building - makes the best New York pretzels anywhere in the city.  The whispering gallery is a marvel of acoustics, and well worth looking like a tourist to demonstrate to friends.  The Oyster Bar exemplifies the feeling of "old New York" - be sure to sit at the Oyster Bar itself (versus a table) to get the full effect.

The Gathering But most of all its the people - thousands upon thousands, from all walks of life (although a majority from Westchester and Connecticut, so I guess it's not all that diverse), striding across the cavernous expanse in a thousand different directions, managing only rarely to even brush so much as an elbow with one another.  

The organized chaos against such a majestic backdrop is unparalleled in this city or beyond. 



[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) grand central grand central station grand central terminal new york city nyc photography https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/7/truly-grand Tue, 03 Jul 2012 21:07:12 GMT
South Street Seaport - Not just for tourists anymore https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/6/south-street-seaport---not-just-for-tourists-anymore South Street Seaport.  For many locals, the name conjures up images of tourist traps, bad food, and street hawkers.  One of those places that we probably visited on a high school field trip, but never returned to once we began living in the city. 

I was of the same mind, until I recently had a chance to revisit the area in preparation for joining the vendors at the fairly new Fulton Stall Market – an open air marketplace featuring artisanal foods and art which is open Saturdays and Sundays.   And I was pleasantly surprised. 

Yes, the touristy restaurants on Pier 17 are still there, as is the rather nondescript shopping mall, but take a walk along some of the cobble-stoned side streets, and you’ll find an up and coming residential area, with great shopping, food, and, of course, history.

One of my favorite spots is Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee on Front Street.  Fulton Stall Market manager Amy Weeks introduced me to the place, and she was right – best coffee in New York.  And the scene is primarily locals – dogs hitched out front, newspapers in hand. 

The Pier itself is actually quite attractive, during off-peak hours.  You can sit and watch the ferries and fire boats cruise up and down the East River, under the majestic backdrops of the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg Bridges.  And the breeze at the end of the pier makes even the hottest summer days in the city more than bearable. 

While the world renowned Fulton Fish Market has long since left for new digs in The Bronx, the remnants of the once-thriving seafood trade remain, with faded signage, abandoned (or more often, repurposed) warehouses and stalls.  Opportunities for great photography abound, whether they be graffiti-strewn walls, the cobblestone streets, or nautical elements that pop up around every corner.

And the Seaport area is one of the few remaining places in Manhattan that has not been completely Disneyfied or gentrified – ironic given the common perception of the area as being bland or touristy. 

I'd be remiss if I didn't get back to the Fulton Stall Market - it's a great collection of 15 or so vendors every Saturday and Sunday (yours truly included.) My favorite thus far is NY Farm to Door, which brings amazing grass-fed meats to the city, including the best hamburgers (and yes, I include Shake Shack) I've ever had.  I brought my hot-dog-snob two-year-old son there yesterday, and he loved the version they offered, along with a heaping serving of shaved ice from Snow & Tell.   Artist Naima Rauam's watercolors of the old fish market are amazing - she basically lived among the fishmongers for years, documenting their travails with her brush.  You can read more about Naima here.   And finally, The Proffertjes Man - serving up addicting mini Dutch pancakes as the salt air flows in off the harbor on an early weekend morning. 

So do yourself a favor and take the 4 or 5 train down to Fulton Street and check it out – it’s a great reminder that Manhattan is, indeed, an island, and of the vital role that shipping played in our great city’s development. 

[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) ambrose fulton fish market fulton stall market jbw photography naima rauam new york city ny farm 2 door pier 17 poffertjes man south street seaport https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/6/south-street-seaport---not-just-for-tourists-anymore Mon, 25 Jun 2012 19:57:26 GMT
The Mind's Eye - Part II - The San Remo https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/5/the-minds-eye---part-ii---the-san-remo A while back, I told you about a project I’m working on with my friend Kevin, a former photographer who lost his sight in adulthood.  Kevin and I spent a chilly – nay, frigid – December morning walking the Brooklyn Bridge, his memories of the iconic structure guiding his art direction of my photographs. 

After sending Kevin several of  my favorite images, he had a sighted neighbor describe them to him in detail.  Indeed, the project seemed to be working, as another friend who was familiar with Kevin’s earlier work said “these are classic Kevin images.”

Next up on our list was The San Remo, and if you’ve spent any time in Central Park, you’re probably familiar with the legendary two-towered residential building, which looms gracefully over Strawberry Fields while sheltering such residents as Demi Moore, Bono, and, in earlier years, Rita Hayworth. 

We started at the base of the building, on Central Park West at 74th Street, before moving into the park, walking slowly south of the building, before turning east and getting a great perspective of the San Remo through the newly-greening trees.   The image to the right was taken near Cherry Hill, just south of the Lake.

Although our focus was the building itself, Central Park early on a spring morning must have presented a wonderous departure for Kevin, who is so highly skilled at navigating even the most congested of midtown pedestrian and vehicular traffic.  A steady breeze rustled the young leaves of oaks and maples, turtles splashed into the water upon our approach, the gentle hum of bicycle tires and distant dogs barking, the scent of lavender and cherry blossoms in the air - I found my own senses of hearing and smell becoming more important, realizing the beauty of the park is only partially a visual one.  

We reached a point where it was time to go - a cab ride down the park drive, back to the din of midtown, where I dropped Kevin off on Lexington Avenue - and for the first time in my experience with him, had to point him in the right direction.  Perhaps Central Park is truly that transporting that even one who can't see it is nearly overwhelmed when returned to the reality of the urban environment that surrounds us. 

Later, I emailed Kevin several of the images, along with my own descriptions, one of which I include here.

Taken from Central Park West, in the dead center of the San Remo, looking up.  The image is in landscape orientation, and although I usually think of the building as narrow and tall, this perspective shows how wide - a full city block - it really is.   The image is perfectly symmetrical, with the exception of the angle as one looks upward - but otherwise is balanced, and seems in some ways to be anchored by the two major balconies at midpoint on each side.  Each balcony is about four or five windows wide.  There is another significant balcony about four stories higher, this one in dead center, serving as a center weight to the composition.  I converted this to black and white using the infrared filter in Photoshop, which brings out the nearly-white tone of the limestone.  The sky is nearly black, in stark contrast to the building, and the blackened windows add to the contrast.


Kevin’s screen-reading software spoke that description, along with the others, giving him, I hope, a pretty vivid view of what I had seen, and he had been present for, on that spring day.  Kevin wrote back, and said words that I will never forget:

“Thanks…for seeing me as someone who is not without vision—just without his eyesight.”

How true that is.  One’s eyes may stop to work, but we can never really lose the ability to see.


[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) blindness central park new york city nyc photography san remo https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/5/the-minds-eye---part-ii---the-san-remo Thu, 24 May 2012 01:30:54 GMT
Paparazzi https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/5/paparazzi Joining the ranks of the paparazzi is pretty far down the list of career ambitions for me, but in the past few weeks, I've had the opportunity to join that much-maligned group on the edge of the red carpet and in the streets, on the hunt for celebrity shots.  

While I've been active in event and portrait photography for years, the celebrity photo scene was new to me when I was first asked to cover a celebrity benefit at the Essex House in Manhattan.  In preparation, I did as much research as I could online (there are not really any books or classes to take on papparazism) and found this YouTube video from celebrity photog Frazer Harrison particularly helpful and entertaining.  Why is it that this field seems to be loaded with Brits and Australians?  Not sure.

The most famous papparazo, of course, is American Ron Galella, who pioneered the field, and ticked off a number of folks along the way.  No doubt, he changed the way we view celebrities as much as Avedon did.  

Back to the Essex House.  I was, admittedly nervous - would the seasoned vets from Getty Images and the NY Post view me as a newbie and push me out of the way, perhaps literally?  Upon arrival, I spent some time shooting the ballroom, some of the details of the decor, some background on the folks setting up the event, before heading to the VIP room where the red carpet was located.  Sure enough, there were already a dozen photogs there, checking light, checking equipment.

They paid me no notice.  And when they did, they were very cordial.  Granted, this wasn't the Oscars, or a stakeout of a Hamptons mansion, so the competition wasn't as fierce, but all in all, a good group.  One of the nicest, Rachel Esterday, who does a lot of great live music photography, spent some time afterwards giving me some tips and advice.  

As the celebrity guests began to arrive, they would approach the red carpet, singly or in groups, and pose for a few minutes while we shot them from just a few feet away.  Again, not a major A-List event, but imagine a dozen cameras on high speed drive going off in unison.  The smell of hot batteries soon filled the air - it was palpable.  After about an hour, I had to replace my flash batteries, and they were literally too hot to touch - I had to cover my fingers with my shirt to remove them, and then worried they would burn the landmark hotel down if I left them on the carpet.

All in all, it was a great deal of fun, and I got some good shots.  You can definitely see the progression in quality as the night went on - I do most of my shooting with natural light, so I really had to relearn flash along the way.  

The second experience was just yesterday.  Tina Fey, a personal favorite, was filming the movie, Admission, in my hometown of Bronxville, so I took the opportunity to head into town with a 300mm zoom lens to try to get a couple of shots of her.  I quickly spotted the paparazzi directly across the street from the set, and joined them in the hunt.  I was amazed to find that one of the guys actually had a scanner, and was listening to the radio communications from the set in his earpiece, so he knew exactly what was going on at all times.  Tina was inside, we couldn't see her, and the general consensus was that she would emerge into a waiting vehicle - giving us only a matter of seconds to get a usable shot.  

The photogs paced...every time the set door opened, they froze, Canon telephotos at the ready, but time and time again, it was a false alarm. 

"tina fey", admission Suddenly, the word from the scanner was that she was coming out within moments, and the cameras went up.  A tractor trailer was coming down the street, and threatened to completely block our view at the crucial moment.  A photog cursed, another dashed in front of the truck and so close to the set that I wondered how she would get a shot with a 500mm lens.  But there was no time to think - I saw our Tina Prey...err...Fey approaching the door - raised my Pentax K7 and began firing.

In a moment, she had disappeared from my viewfinder.  I panicked and looked left and right.  No Tina.  I also realize that the paparazzi had disappeared.  What?  I was dumfounded, until I looked down the street and saw them running south after a black SUV.  

It was over like that.  I cursed and checked my camera - one, maybe two usable shots. A quick sigh of relief - that was better than nothing, and it was a great learning experience.  

See you on the red carpet!


[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) city essex house new nyc paparazzi photography red carpet tina fey york https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/5/paparazzi Thu, 17 May 2012 22:01:55 GMT
Planes, Trains, No Automobiles https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/5/planes-trains-no-automobiles
I spend a lot of time travelling - daily by train to and from New York City, and sometimes by plane across the U.S.  From the grandeur of the Beaux Arts masterpiece that is Grand Central Terminal, to the sleek modernity of Chicago's O'Hare airport, the start and end points of these trips offer great opportunities for photography.  

And the journey itself deserves documentation, so I often grab a window seat and shoot through the train or plane window, which can be challenging but very rewarding. 

En route, I usually rely on the iPhone for most pictures.  It's convenient, quite capable (especially with the Camera+ app) and less conspicuous than a DSLR.  You can also lay it flat against the window, reducing reflections - something you can also do by using a lens hood, preferably a flexible rubber one, on your DSLR.

So, I tend to shoot a lot while in motion, whether hurtling through Harlem on the Metro North, or at 30,000 feet over Indiana.  Whether it's the ironic beauty of graffiti on a brick wall or a dramatic cloud formation, I've had a lot of fun over the past few weeks, and it sure passes the time better than reading the NY Post.



[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) air travel airplane grand central terminal, iphone iphoneography metro north" photography train window https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/5/planes-trains-no-automobiles Sat, 12 May 2012 04:19:09 GMT
From Pixels to Paper: Making a Photobook from your Instagram Images https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/5/from-pixels-to-prints-making-a-photobook-from-your-instagram-images My AdoramaPix Photobook of Instagram Images from Grand Central Terminal

One of the less positive consequences of the rise of digital photography has been the lack of correlation between the volume of photos being made and the prints of those images.  The increased accessibility and affordability of photography, through point-and-shoot and camera phones, has made casual shooters out of most folks, but often the hundreds of images they take of their kids, vacations, and friends wind up sitting on a memory card – often shared, but seldom taken to the final step – a photographic print.  And certainly, sharing your images on Facebook or Instagram brings them to a wider audience, and probably brings more pleasure (or annoyance, depending on your point of view) to friends and relatives than a single 4x6 print from the neighborhood drug store ever would.

That said, the increased interest in photography has also brought increased skill sets from photographers of all levels, and the most pure way to view some of your masterpieces is on paper – especially if it’s nicely matted and framed.  So I’ve always admonished casual photographers to get those favorite images off of their memory cards and hard drives, and onto their walls, where they can bring visual delight on a daily basis.

So, I’ve always been a big fan of the print – whether a 5x7 in a tabletop frame, or a 16x20 of the kids hung on the living room wall.  Back in 2003, when I was interviewing wedding photographers for my own nuptials, I got into a discussion with a well know photog from Brooklyn, who recommended a little shop down in New York’s Photo District called Adorama.  “They’ve been doing really nice work lately,” he commented.  And thus my nearly ten-year relationship with Adorama began.  Now the lab is known as AdoramaPix, and you don’t need to live in NYC to take advantage of their quality and pricing – they’ll ship anywhere.

You’ve probably begun to see photobooks – a collection of images printed on photo-quality paper and bound, popping up in places beyond the traditional wedding album.  Everyone from Kodak to Costco makes them now, with varying degrees of quality.  Regardless, they’re an excellent way to bring your photos to the printed page in a  fashion that is not only impactful, but portable and durable. 

AdoramaPix has been making great photobooks for a while now – I’ve used them for wedding albums and Mother’s Day gifts in particular, so when they launched a new book format, specifically geared towards mobile phone pictures, I was excited to check it out.  An iPhone holdout for quite some time, I finally got hooked on the device’s camera, and social photo sharing  through Instagram, at end of last year.  Hundreds of photos later, I still didn’t have a convenient way to preserve and showcase those images, and a photobook seemed like a great idea.  That said, I was also a bit leery – what looks great on a backlit, 2” x 3” iPhone screen isn’t necessarily going to look so hot in a larger, printed format, especially after going through some of the myriad Snapseed and Instagram filters I use.  When an iPhone photograph is enlarged, even to the 8” x 8” suggested size of the special “Cameraphone” templated book from AdoramaPix, it may start to deteriorate in quality, I suspected.

But, I gave it a shot.  You can easily upload your iPhone photos from Instagram and other apps directly to AdoramaPix from your Camera Roll.  The photos then appear in a bin, where you can easily drag and drop them into the pre-formatted “Cameraphone” template provided by the online tool.  You can, of course, customize the format of each page – from a single image to a multi-image collage, but for the most part, I liked the suggested format and stuck with it, making only minor tweaks here and there. 


That’s one of the nice things about the AdoramaPix photobook platform – you can make it as easy or complex as you like.  I’ve seen some pretty impressive examples of other photographers’ photobooks on AdoramaPix’s online community, and I’m guessing these required quite a bit more effort than I put into mine, which was designed around a them – “Images from In and Around Grand Central Terminal” – a building I pass through multiple times a day. 

There were a couple of hiccups along the way – at one point, a handful of the images I had uploaded from my iPhone disappeared – turning blank, which caused me a bit of a panic until I contacted customer service and got an immediate reply with the suggestion to clear my cookies and temporary files in my Chrome browser and refresh the page, which worked just fine.   Another tip – many Instagram filters include borders or frames, so you may want to arrange images with similar borders on the same page spreads, otherwise they can look a bit unbalanced.

The turnaround time for photobooks is often promised at 3 or so business days, but after submitting my order, my book was complete the next day, and ready for pickup at the shop on 18th Street.  As mentioned before, they also ship nationwide, but a trip from my office in midtown down to the Flatiron District is always welcome, and it gives me the chance to ogle some of the latest camera gear on display. The book itself came out really nicely – what I would expect from AdoramaPix, but also assuaging my concerns about image quality from the iPhone.   You can check out an  online version of it here (an added benefit for sharing with others) or see some of the photos of it below. 

Again, I feel strongly that printing your best images is essential to getting the full benefit of your newfound (or rekindled) interest in photography that’s been sparked by social media and mobile phone cameras.  Don’t just let those images sit there, on your memory card or on Facebook’s servers, and fade into the digital history books – make a real book out of them, something that, if well printed and constructed, can literally be handed down from generation to generation.  God knows what will happen to Instagram in five years, let alone fifty, but you can bet your photobook will still be around to share with the grandkids. 


[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) adorama adoramapix central city grand instagram iphone iphoneography new nyc photo books photobook york https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/5/from-pixels-to-prints-making-a-photobook-from-your-instagram-images Fri, 04 May 2012 17:59:47 GMT
The Mind's Eye https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/4/the-minds-eye Several years ago, very much through serendipity, I was fortunate to meet Kevin. The first thing anyone would notice about him is that he's blind, and walks the streets of Manhattan with a trusted guide dog, his third such service animal since he lost his eyesight. Kevin is a warm, gracious, and caring friend, and as I came to know his story in more detail, it became apparent that Kevin and I had quite a bit in common.

Kevin wasn't born blind, in fact he had perfect vision until one day, in his mid-thirties, when his eyes began to bother him. After seeing several specialists, he got the news - a rare condition would render him completely blind, and very quickly.

Tragic enough, but what really hit home for me was that, prior to the loss of his eyesight, Kevin was a photographer. An event planner by profession, Kevin was passionate about photographing the city we both love - New York. The blindness, of course, would end this passion forever, or so one might think.

After several years of friendship, Kevin came to me with an idea. There were three structures in New York City that he had always loved, but never had a chance to shoot before losing his eyesight. Would I, he asked, be interested in shooting them, with him by my side, using his memories of the buildings to essentially art direct the shoot. Of course I would, I replied.

And so it was that one cold December morning, I met Kevin, sans guide dog, at Grand Central Terminal, and took subway to the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge - one of his three coveted architectural masterpieces. We walked along the promenade, his hand on my shoulder, the bitter winter wind cutting at my bare shooting hands, and took several images of the span. Kevin's passion was black and white, symmetrical architectural photography - with emphasis on lines and shadows. The light from the rising sun against the bridge was stunning, rendering the brown brick nearly orange in color, and casting long shadows across the East River.

We proceeded to cross the bridge itself - an exercise I highly recommend to all visitors and locals alike - although not perhaps at 8am on a windy winter morning. After arriving on the Manhattan side, we returned to Midtown and parted ways. After processing the shots, I emailed them to Kevin, and he enlisted a neighbor to describe the photography to him in detail, allowing him to combine the image in front of him, which he could not see, with the image in his mind, which was probably clearer than any photograph could be.

Kevin and I tackled the next building on his list - the storied San Remo on Central Park West, this morning. More on that to come...


[email protected] (Jay B. Wilson Photography) blindness brooklyn brooklyn bridge manhattan new york city nyc https://www.jaybwilsonphoto.com/blog/2012/4/the-minds-eye Tue, 24 Apr 2012 20:12:24 GMT