Words and Photos // Patrick Do
Back when I was a photo editor for my university’s paper, the Daily Titan, I was given an opportunity to fly over to New York City to learn from former journalists and photographers about the importance of media and how to utilize it. Without even knowing how much it would cost I agreed, mostly because I just wanted to go to New York and take a little break from the spring semester, and to my surprise the whole trip was paid for.
Realizing I just got a paid flight and stay in New York for a week I began thinking of what I would do once I get over there. Of course I wouldn’t have a problem going through the conferences and learning as much as I can to improve our paper. But what really kept me up at night was fantasizing about what spots I wanted to check out over there to skate. Nothing fired me up to skate more at the time than east coast skateboarding. Even though this was a year after the Supreme video, Cherry, by William Strobeck was released, I was psyched more than ever to just see the spots that Dylan Rieder and Aaron Harrington skated. All I watched until the trip was Cherry and Static IV.
At the time I was more worried about Delta allowing me to bring my board as a carry on with my duffel bag instead of my camera equipment. Like always I packed the night before and did a basic checklist to make sure I grabbed the essentials including a toothbrush, deodorant, shirts, boxers, socks, laptop, and camera. Once I zipped up my duffel I was ready to go never thinking twice if I might have forgotten anything. Like the space cadet I am at times, I forgot the most important item for the reason of me being on the trip, the battery for the camera. I missed out on shooting photos the whole first day since B&H was closed once we landed.
The next morning I wake up before the sun comes out to make sure I would get to LAX on time for my flight at 8. This too would be new for me because I have never been on a plane. I imagined that it really couldn’t be anymore different than a bus ride, I was was wrong. Checking in and going through TSA was the worst. My duffel bag was filled to the top and I had to take my camera out to get it through the metal detector. I was also wearing Chuck Taylor highs making it a lot more difficult to put my shoes on right after TSA. The flight definitely made up for the pre-flight stress. Not only was I able to bring my board with me but there were also screens with movies to watch and games to play for the whole flight! I was amazed at the selection of movies Delta had and watched Mad Max: Fury Road and Dead Poets Society, both great movies for a plane ride. I never felt so in awe of human innovation and was humbled at the thought of being able to watch these movies flying 39,000 feet above ground. Nothing is more surreal than looking at the screen telling you you’re flying over Utah and looking out the window to just the vast landscape. To me New York always seemed so far away and being on a 6 hour flight made the world seem really small.
Once we landed I couldn’t wait to get out of the terminals and into the city. The group of us packed into a van and began our, what seemed to be a day’s drive, to the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan. Just getting into New York City looked like a movie. We got into the city after sunset by while on the bridge to the city I swear the skyline looked like the Miramax logo. The first night we grabbed pizza and to be honest was not as good as New York pizza is hyped up to be. I still will prefer a meat jesus and macaroni pizza from Pizzanista instead. Besides that the other guys wanted to just settle in but I wanted to start checking out local spots using the Quartersnacks spot map of New York on their site. I skated around Manhattan trying to get a feel for the city. Times Square was overwhelming with bright lights and LED screens displaying advertisements and playing full on trailers for movies. Skating around tourists and people dressed up as Spider-Man felt a lot like skating in Hollywood. I ended up skating to Columbus Circle, my first spot in New York. I came at a weird time as there was a what seemed to be a street photography meetup. I was still able to skate and was surprised that the cops didn’t even care that I was there. It was getting late and I had to get up early in the morning for the conferences so I skated back to the hotel trying to realize the fact that I’m actually in New York City.
The conferences, as hard as I tried to be interested, sucked the enjoyment out of me. The only person that made me think about photography and work in general in a different way was a sports photographer that has photographed for Sports Illustrated and was a photo editor for the Olympics. He was explaining that anyone can take a photo these days with how easy it is to access a camera. Not only that but how shots now are no longer creative or distinct from one photographer to another. What most editors, like himself, look for is the individual photographer’s style. Style for photography is all with the eye and how a person sees the world, very similar to skateboarding and other forms of art. Showing examples of photos from previous Olympics opened me up to what he was explaining. All of the photos that were chosen to advertise for the Olympics were never ordinary action shots. Many of the photos were even abstract and not until looking closely will you make out a horse or a arena for the sport. He made me realize the importance of a great photo compared to an average one, that not everyone is able to do professional photojournalism at a high level because having an eye for what looks great is rare. It really is not for everyone and for the ones who are willing to pursue a career can find times where they do not believe in themselves. The lecture, it turned out to be, was inspiring and acted as a pick me up to believing in yourself and your capabilities, that no one will see the world as you will and vice versa.
The other meetings I attended were not as interesting to me because it seemed as though the speakers were just talking about their own lives and success, not really giving any tips as to help someone or their organization succeed. I was more inspired by the city itself rather than from the speakers. After a morning of conferences the other editors and I would grab dinner and find something exciting to do. We planned for a day to go see the World Trade Center Memorial. Once arriving at the memorial, there was an eerie feeling in the air. This was making me feel extremely sad, thinking about how many people lost their lives that day and the scar it left for the country. From there we all splitted ways, some went to the top of the One World Trade Center, while others went to get coffee.
I instead went to check out LES skatepark under the Manhattan Bridge. It was exciting seeing the park in real life compared to just Instagram clips of Tyshawn Jones shredding the park. I was surprised to how much rougher the ground was compared to back home. The ground felt like a real street spot rather than the normal smooth skatepark ground. I was able to skate the park for a bit before I was called to come back and meet with the group to walk on the Brooklyn Bridge. My way back to the group was the highlight of my trip. Skating through Chinatown and down by the East River, passing the bench that Dylan impossibled over in his Gravis part. It was really enjoyable skating through the city and figuring out the layout of it. By the end of the trip I already knew that I wanted to go back on my own time to check out the rest of the city.
The trip was great and refreshing. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be even considered to go under as a Daily Titan staff member. New York City is a grand place with so much to explore that I don’t think a week was even close enough to take all in; but then again it was more of a business trip. The group of friends I went with were great and made the experience even greater. What I took most from the trip is that inspiration can come from anywhere if you are open enough for it and sometimes all you need is a little environment change.