So I didn't think my trip to New York City could get any better. And then Gina showed up.
We met at Grand Central Station as the rain started falling, and I recognised Gina straight away from her brilliant smile and her red beret. We sheltered in a Starbucks with lattes and our cameras, waiting for the rain to pass, and learnt a little bit more about each other. Whenever I meet people from Flickr (Rona, Kay, Alesha, Mat...) it's always so exciting to hear the stories behind the photographs I've seen on their flickrstreams. We talked about the friends we've found through sharing our work on the internet, and the opportunities photography has brought us.
The rain persisted even after our coffees were cold, but we decided to head down 5th Avenue and see what we could find.
We both agreed that setting off to find a shot without one in mind can be a bit of a daunting and dangerous task. I really wanted to find a photograph on 5th Avenue, but it was cold and wet and the taxis had begin to put on their headlights.
New York, though, has a habit of coming through for you, even when you least expect it. Ahead of us Gina spotted smoke billowing from a subway grate, and we watched from the sidewalk as the wind changed direction and blew it across the road. The peel of an ambulance parted the traffic, and it pulled up outside a hotel with its red lights flashing. The rain reflected the headlights in the road, the smoke cast a glow in front of the cars, and what was a grey, wet backdrop a moment before suddenly became a cinematic spectacle.
We dashed across the road each time STOP turned to WALK, framing each of our shots in our heads. I wanted to capture New York's bright lights, white noise, and endless movement against the face of a photographer who, by nature, must stop and contemplate, stand still inside the city's turbulence.
Playing chicken with the lights and irritating the commuters on their way home paid off. Gina shot an expansion free-hand from the sidewalk as the rain picked up again, and we sheltered in a doorway to look back over the images. What I love most about meet ups like this is being able to see how other photographers work, how they shoot and how they see the world. We're still developing our eyes and our styles, and sharing that learning process with people I admire is such a pleasure.
The rain had really started to beat down again - so much so that my paper bag from the Met had disintegrated into a soggy pulp - and it was time for us to head home. We said goodbye on the subway platform, and even though we'd only had a couple of hours together I felt a little lonely as I waited for my train after she'd gone. Sometimes life throws you short, serendipitous gifts, and this had been one of them: a rainy evening on 5th Avenue with a girl I would never had met if it weren't for the internet. Thanks for a perfect evening, Gina. If you're in California next year, let's do it again.