When I was up in New York a couple of weekends ago to take that workshop from Lou Manna, I got the incredible opportunity to spend the day before shooting the streets of New York with a true living legend; Jay Maisel.
I’ll describe it to you the same way I described it to my wife; I told her …”it was like spending the day in a documentary.” Each corner we turned, he had another fascinating story. Each street we walked, there was another photography lesson, or just a lesson about life. He shared stories of old New York, people he knew, people he shot, advice he had been given, jobs he’d taken, and I did my best to pick up on every little nugget he threw out.
We were barely out of his building when he pointed out my first mistake. We were going out to shoot the people of New York, and Jay had this very small, inconspicuous lens. I, on the otherhand, had a large fast lens with an even larger lens hood. Jay asked me, “Which is going to be more intimidating to people on the street? Your camera or mine?”
He then added a colorful analogy that clearly explained the correlation between the time it takes a New Yorker to grab your camera and (ahem) shove it in an area where things were designed to exit, and the size of the lens you’re pointing at them. I immediately got the point, but all I could do was take off the lens hood and turn it around, so it didn’t extend nearly as far. We hadn’t even left the building, and I already knew I wouldn’t make that mistake again.