I Experienced New York City For The First Time and Left With a New Outlook on My Photography Career

I Experienced New York City For The First Time and Left With a New Outlook on My Photography Career

Perhaps you’re like I was one week prior to the writing this – a West Coast native who had only gone as far as making assumptions about one of the largest cities in the Western Hemisphere – New York City. I’m back in the Arizona desert where I call home after attending PDN PhotoPlus Expo 2018 and I brought back an importantly refreshed outlook on myself and my career in photography.

You may recall my previously published article where I inquired to the Fstoppers community about the pro’s and con’s of Social Media as it relates to photography. I was invited to PDN PhotoPlus 2018 to be a part of a keynote panel discussion called “Social Media Is Ruining Photography.” While I could use this time to go on about the vigorous discussion that took place among the well qualified panelist, Allen Murabayashi (PhotoShelter), Teresa Letorney (Visura), Rhynna Santos (Everyday Bronx), and myself, as well as the many obvious and well documented benefits of networking at conventions such as PhotoPlus, instead I’m going to detour for a moment and talk about a refreshed outlook I was able to gain while I was there. 

Back home in the Arizona desert dissecting my memories and moments experienced in the Manhattan area of New York, I can’t help but feel like I learned a lot about myself as an individual as well as a photographer during the three short days I was there. It’s been said that sometimes one must look or think outside of the box in order to gain a different perspective on any given situation. The thing is, prior to this trip I hadn’t quite realized I was in a box. It took flying over 2200 miles from where I call home and surrounding myself with people who had a completely different outlook on the world and the photo industry to come to grips with the fact that I had securely placed myself inside of a metaphorical box without even realizing it.

Discussions ensued throughout the convention with industry professionals more interested in my personal work – the work I do not market or very rarely share with anyone and hold close to my heart (perhaps due to fear of judgment) – than they were in the work I grind out on a daily basis (the aforementioned box) - portraiture and commercial photography. After sensing the same genuine enthusiasm from several individuals whom I respect, I had to ask myself why I wasn’t putting more of my energy and confidence into my personal work – the work I enjoy most and that others apparently do too.

“There are THOUSANDS of portrait and commercial photographers here right now. You might be the only photographer here with the type of access you have. You should focus on that.”

I haven’t quite digested everything I experienced while in New York City yet, but I can tell that it’s going to shape the next several years of my photography career – and I feel excited about that.

Have you ever been somewhere that made you see yourself in different light or that strongly influenced your photography? Share your experience in the comments below.

Dusty Wooddell's picture

Dusty Wooddell is a professional photographer based in the Southwestern United States. Self-proclaimed thinker, opportunity seeker, picky eater, observer of things.

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Isn't Mexico City bigger than New York City?

Not to mention São Paulo and Lima.

yeah also massive!

It's all really confusing. When you win the World Series in Baseball, you've won a competition that only teams from the USA (and Toronto) partake in. So maybe that's how NYC claims the title of biggest city in the Western Hemisphere...

"...one of the largest cities in the Western Hemisphere"

I had to do a quick Google search to reveal that Mexico City, Sao Paulo, and Lima are all larger than NYC - and I'm sure a visit to any of those locations could be life changing as well. I could have elaborated that it wasn't only the size of the city that made it so impressive. It was the people I met while I was there.

The pedants strike again!
The author said "ONE of the largest cities in the Western Hemisphere – New York City"
(the capitalization is mine).

Mate, the article was edited afterwards (before you reading it) to correct the initial mistake.

This seems like it should have been titled "I Experienced PDN PhotoPlus 2018 and Left With a New Outlook on My Photography Career". From the original title, I thought this article would be longer, and about the unique features of the city itself.

Honestly, what you can experience there in three days is limited, especially with obligations other than tourism, and I left feeling like it could take a lifetime to experience those unique features you’ve mentioned. Thanks for reading though

True. You didn't mention anything about that in this article though. If this conference took place in another city, you'd probably write something similar, yeah?

No, I've been to many conferences over the last several years. New York is different than any place I've ever been.

So you're saying that the fact that this particular conference happened to be held in New York was what made an impact on you? If the same conference with the same content and people was held in another city, it would have been completely different?

...something like that.

Street photographers shape and entire career around that one city.

I'm going to comment to what the article is about...

New York itself was inspiring for me. Being from the midwest, I hadn't really had any experience with a city that big. I think it was a great primer for my exploration of new ideas and inspirations. I had no idea how much I was going to love it. Minneapolis hasn't felt the same since. It's easy to find yourself in that box and feeing to get out every once and a while.

Thanks for staying on point. I've only flown over the Midwest. It's another place I'd like to visit and photograph some day.

Ah, the discovery of youth.

If you stay with this, you'll find this time after time venturing out. It certainly didn't hurt you attended a photographic event in one of the largest cities in North America.