I’ve been fiddling around with my WordPress theme, figuring out how it works as a CMS. So here’s a photo that is somehow going to propagate through WordPress’s “featured image” handling. It’s from the night of the big snow storm last month. I walked for about 5 hours up to Fifth Avenue in Midtown. I got into a pretty good snowball fight in Times Square, too.
I guess there’s no better time to post old winter photos than during the summer hellfest we’re currently living in, but there’s an actual timeliness reason, too:
Back in 2009, a blizzard hit New York and I took photos of people balling it up in Times Square. The Flickr blog spotlighted the photos and since then, they’ve been my most requested-for reprints. I received quite a few messages from Germans, especially civic organizations interested in how the then-new Times Square pedestrian-walkways were working out.
At least one non-civic-group liked the photos: STORE Contemporary, a Dresden art gallery, emailed me to ask if they could use the photos in an exhibition. I said, ‘Sure, that sounds fun,’ and then didn’t hear back for about two years.
Well, my international debut is finally here. From July 19 to September 7, STORE (on 14 Pulsnitzer St.), my photos will be featured in an exhibit titled, “Dan Nuygen [sic…er, close enough] & Doug Kim: Snowball fight on main street”.
From Google Translate:
The photographer Doug Kim and Dan Nuygen (both USA) show images of these legendary snowball fight in Times Square in New York City 2009th Of the recent global turmoil images, and a worldwide flashmobs Occupy active movement they did in this little moment. Even before social media enhanced mass events and political actions to habit images of media culture, these were spontaneous rioting led to photographic recordings with unrivaled symbolic effect. (The summer exhibition is the series How the f *** did I end up here? )
I prefer it in the original German, though:
Die Fotografen Doug Kim und Dan Nuygen (beide USA) zeigen Bilder dieser legendären Schneeballschlacht am Timesquare in New York City 2009. Von den jüngsten Bildern globalen Aufruhrs, flashmobs und einer weltweit aktiven Occupy-Bewegung ahnten sie in diesem Moment wenig. Noch bevor social media verstärkte Massenveranstaltungen und politische Aktionen zur Gewohnheitsbildern der Medienkultur wurden, führte diese spontane Zusammenrottung zu photografischen Aufzeichnungen mit konkurrenzlos symbolhafte Wirkung.
So if you happen to be in Dresden during the summer…and for some reason, want to see photos of snow…check out STORE Contemporary. I don’t actually get to go to Dresden, though. Through the magic of the Internet, though, hopefully I’ll get to see what the exhibit looks like.
I had to go back and find the original files for STORE, so I took the opportunity to finally edit through the entire batch I took that night in 2009. Back then, I wasn’t skilled at using the camera controls so most of the shots weren’t of much use. But I was surprised to find a lot of interesting shots that I had apparently overlooked, some of them better than the ones I published 3 years ago.
I uploaded them to Flickr today for archival purposes. They brought back a lot of good memories that night, especially since our recent winters have been weak in comparison:
Snowball fight in Times Square – New York Blizzard Snowstorm Blargfest, originally uploaded by Dan Nguyen NY.
During last night’s blizzard, there was an attempt at a mass snowball fight like last year’s. People spent more time pelting vehicles than each other, since they had to fight across a street, and It petered out after a few minutes.
I think the main difference between this year and last was that last year, the TKTS plaza area was open, providing a much bigger common space to goof around in. That area has been closed to prepare for New Year Eve’s festivities.
Also, the weather was much blustier this year…there was lightning and thunder, not that you could really notice the former in Times Square. See my pics of last year’s snowball fight here.
The Father Duffy Square, where the TKTS stand is, was closed off:
Last year was more of a big snow flurry. Last night was definitely a blizzard.
I’ve had a basic Flickr account for about a year now and before this past weekend, I don’t think I had more than 2,000 hits across the 150 random photos in my stream. After Flickr spotlighted my photos of the Times Square snowball fight at the top of its blog, I received about 71,000 hits and hundreds of comments in three days:
The funniest part of it is, is that I had uploaded pretty much the exact same set of photos more than 30 hours before. After work, while at the office, I noticed that CNN had spotlighted freelancer Doug Kim’s excellent B&W photos of the incident on his blog; I didn’t realize until I saw the reaction he got how amazing this event was to anyone who hadn’t been there that night, possibly even more interesting than for even those of us lucky to be there. I re-uploaded those same photos at a slightly larger size so I could post them “Big Picture” style to my blog. I’m pretty sure the important tags (“snow”, “snowball”) were in both versions (in fact, the picked-up version lacks “snowball fight” as a tag, which is the term that the Flickr blog post links to.
Apparently, I had good timing. Maybe ten minutes after I uploaded the larger-sized photos, I started noticing a stream of comments…and when I finally noticed that the thumbnail of my photo was not just showing on my Flickr page, but on everyone else’s…I hastily did a quick edit of the hundreds of other snowball fight photos I took that night and uploaded them. My two favorite of the secondary bunch…actually, of the whole bunch period, and I only bothered to look at them again because I figured Flickr users were OK with slightly more quantity than quality.
According to the NYT’s City Room Blog, one of the earliest popular mentions of the event was on BoingBoing, which linked to a Tweeted mobile phone photo. It wasn’t the clearest, but making something known is more important. I’m kicking myself a little for editing my photos when I got home but then only posting them to a private online album for friends. I’m glad Kim’s excellent photos got huge play when CNN’s iReport gave it a spot on CNN.com’s homepage.
Two days after the snowball fight, I didn’t have much to add to from what Kim’s photos had shown, so I figured the least I could do was license my photos under Creative Commons so that everyone could freely share them. I’m lucky enough to have a steady job now, so I’m just happy to show as many people as possible the cheery, smiling side of New Yorkers (or, at least its tourists’).
Some of my favorite comments, on Flickr and this Reddit post, which made it to the top of r/photography. I forget that not everyone knows what Times Square has been like since the pedestrian-calming measures took effect (and now I realize that this snowball fight probably wouldn’t have taken place any other year beforehand), or even what a snowstorm is.
This made me feel a little bit better about the world, so thanks! When I think of NYC, the last thing I expect to see is people laughing and having fun! 😛
Gets way too much crap for being an unfriendly city. Glad these photos show how untrue that reaction can be sometimes.
kevinbhookun Pro User says:
Reminds me of a Scene from Gangs of New York, except this is much cleaner
judo_dad1953 Pro User says:
I’m listening to Franz Schuberts Unfinished Symphony No.8 in B minor; as I’m wandering through your photostream. Its a perfect combination; it draws me to the image, making me wish I could pass into it and experience the moment wholly. Still, doing so vicariously is no small thing. Its an enviable record of an enviable moment. A tip of the hat to you for posting such a beautiful photo!
Kyle_Butler Pro User says:
I was so excited when I saw this picture I did a back flip. However, I was in a sleeping bag…so it got really weird. My cat looked at me as though he no longer accepted me as his owner. Then I realized I had no cat, and wondered why this creature was in my home!
See, your photo has set off a chain of events that not even Ashton Kutcher could fix!
Eric Austria Pro User says:
i was just there last nov. what a difference a day of snow is. if i’m gonna be stranded from a snowstorm this would be the ideal place.
hah) “snowstorm”…for us it’s really fun to hear such a word. I know that you are not used to the weather like this and it’s really a storm for you, but here in Moscow we would have called it like “huh, snowy again”)) anyway, amazing pics)
Well, if spotlighting my photo was Flickr’s roundabout way to get me to sign up for a Pro account…well, it worked. I had a vague sense of the Flickr ecosystem work…but when no one stops by your photostream, you don’t see it in practice. Having interacted with dozens of other photogs and spending some time seeing the other great work out there…I’m seeing a lot more utility for a Flickr account than just providing people a repository for the random CC-images I have. And I’m going to try it out as the hosting service for my images. Dreamhost’s recent spottiness as of late didn’t give me confidence that it could handle serving up pages with multiple large images to thousands of visitors.
So lesson learned: when you have a nice camera, don’t keep the good memories to yourself. Happy Holidays.
Snowball fights, slow traffic…if Times Square was like this everyday, the Manhattanites would fight to take it back from the tourists. See a bigger version of these photos on this page, where I’m slowly experimenting with WordPress’s templating…ouch, php, ouch. Also, my photo made it at the top of this Flickr post.
I hadn’t used my 5dm2 since I got the S90. I love the S90 but I became accustomed to not getting decent images in any kind situation where the ISO was at 800. In the snowstorm, I had a rain-jacket improperly fitted on the 5d2 and blindly hit the autofocus button…I didn’t expect to get anything but these didn’t turn out so bad.
Update: Some reflections about the “social media” aspect of what I thought was just a good-ol fashioned large-scale snowball fight
Some video of the spontaneous snowfight, mostly among patrons who had just gotten out of their Broadway shows, using my 5dm2. Not exactly the best quality considering I was sloppily using a rain jacket and haven’t ever really used the video function. But I was impressed that it’s slightly in focus.