Lucky Photography – New York


I’ve now done a few posts where I have referred to ‘lucky photography‘ – those times when I was primarily doing something else and just happened to be in the right place at the right time to get at least one interesting photo. This post is about a completely different type of luck, as it could have been planned.

Back in 2017 I visited New York for the first time. Together with my family, we saw many of the famous sights and I captured a range of great photographs around the city. But my favourite was one that I had no expectation of taking before the trip – or even on the day it happened. And it was free. Having walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, we were walking around the Dumbo area and were crossing Washington Street, when I spotted that it would be possible to get a shot of the Empire State Building framed within the legs of the Manhattan Bridge.

After some searching on the Internet later in the day, I discovered that this view seems to be a lucky coincidence and that the location of the legs wasn’t planned in anyway to allow for this view. But the search on the Internet also made it clear that this view is very well known. Indeed, by the time I had walked down Washington Street to take the picture above, it was clear that many others were trying to take a similar picture. Indeed, my best photo (the one above) is a cropped version of the following full version in which you can make out some of those getting in the way of traffic trying to get their photo:

Now, if I had come across these internet sites beforehand I would, no doubt, have planned to take a similar photo to the one that I eventually got. Equally, if I had not come across the sites and not turned my head at the moment I crossed the street, I may have left the area and not got the photos that I did and had some regret about the missed chance if I learnt of the photo opportunity at a later date.

But, I cannot help feel that it is a shame that so many trips and holidays have become a programme of replicating other people’s experiences (and my research about ‘contents tourism‘, for example, ‘Contents Tourism in Plane Sight‘, points to the extremes that can happen in relation to this, and I have also written about it in my book Dealing with Disaster in Japan in relation to how people will visit certain sites to escape the monotony of our usual lives (which in some cases becomes classified as ‘dark tourism‘)).

So often we go to take photos that others have taken before and where, sometimes, a much better photo could be downloaded for free off the internet rather than taking our own. While I regularly use reviews on Google and Tripadvisor to check what something/somewhere may be like, and often tend to give reviews on such sites (as well as Goodreads and Amazon for book reviews, for example), there is a part of me that misses the enjoyment of just trying somewhere and more random discoveries. And that photo taken in New York is one of my favourite such lucky photos.

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