Best Graffiti Walls in NYC to Photograph

Inspiration, photography tips

When my cousin asked me if I’d shoot some fun engagement photos for her and her fiancee, I was immediately excited. They’re a super fun couple who hate the traditional cheesy engagement shots, so I knew our shoot would be fun and totally out of the box–something I’m always down to try with photography.

We immediately started scouring Instagram for the best spots in NYC with the coolest graffiti. I’d walked by a lot of cool spots in passing, but I had never really put together a definitive list on the best spots to keep track of. So, after we ran around shooting all day–and I do mean the entire day–we had tons of good spots that I would recommend for you guys to try if you’re looking for good shooting spots. Here they are:

  1. Freeman Alley

This spot was perfect for them because they don’t love having to take pictures while an audience of people watches. Freeman Alley is pretty hard to find if you don’t know that it’s there, so there’s never a ton of people hanging around, which makes pictures easier. The graffiti in the alley is always changing, but theres a diverse selection to choose from. Also, while you’re there, grabbing a bite at Freeman’s is never a bad idea!

2. Houston Bowery Mural

This is one of the more known spots downtown, but that doesn’t make it any less photogenic! The mural gets changed every few months, so there’s always something new to shoot with. Queen Andrea is the most recent artists selected to decorate the wall, and it’s filled with vibrant colors and a massive “Believe” script over the top. It’s massive, so you’ll have plenty of room to get your shots for The ‘Gram. Just be careful though, because it’s right next to the busy street.

3. NOMO SOHO Graffiti Wall

We saw this wall in our inspiration pics, but didn’t know exactly where it was, so it was a huge surprise as we were strolling down Crosby Street and came across this piece and the ivy archway. It’s definitely a great spot for pictures, and the pastel tones on the brick come across beautifully in camera. Just note that this is an entrance to a hotel, so people will probably be walking back and forth, but don’t let that stop you from getting your shot!

4. Dumbo Love Wall

I told you we went everywhere–we even made it to Brooklyn before the sun set! If you’ve walked around NYC, chances are you’ve probably seen some heart murals. Those belong to JGoldcrown, a British graffiti artist based in NY and LA. We shot at the Dumbo one, but he has murals up in Freeman Alley, Mott Street, St. Marks, and Williamsburg. This is such an iconic NYC graffiti stop, and I think it’s a must for your graffiti photo list.

5. Wandering!

My last tip for you: wander around. Here’s just a few other places we went that ended up having super cool or cute graffiti. The coolest part about NYC is that it’s constantly changing, and a piece you love might be replaced next week with a totally new one. Definitely pick out your spots, but make sure you plan in some time to wander around and see what you can find in the city. If you do happen to stumble onto some great spots, let me know and I’ll add them to the list!

Special thanks to A and Ty for such a fun day in NYC and trusting me with their pictures. And if you like these, make sure to have a look at my website and follow me on Instagram! Feel free to drop me an email at gdeimz@gmail.com for any shoot requests, questions, or just to chat! If you’re in the NYC area, let’s grab coffee and talk lenses and shoot locations 🙂

Success Tips For Emerging Creatives

Inspiration, photography tips

I know what you’re thinking: here we go, another one of those vague articles about how to be successful that doesn’t actually explain anything at all, except ending with some inspirational quote like, “the world is yours, so get out there and do something!” They’re kind of inspiring, but also never really say what you’re actually supposed to do. Well, this week is my one year anniversary of being a college graduate, and so far the real world has taught me a lot more about failure than success. So I thought I’d write about what I’ve learned thus far, in hopes that other young creatives might find it helpful.

Stop Comparing Yourself. First of all, in creative careers especially, your definition of success will most likely be wildly different from someone else’s, even in the same field. As a creative, you can’t compare yourself to other people. My graphic designer and illustrator friends are amazing, but they do a totally different job than me, a photographer. You should appreciate the value of the other people in your team, but you do a highly specialized and individualized job, too, and that’s worth a lot. And just because you have less experience doesn’t mean you’re any less of a professional. That’s something I had to learn to accept. When I’m bidding jobs against other photographers who have ten or twenty years more experience than me, I have to be confident in my craft (that, or fake it ’til you make it).

Identify What You’re Trying to Achieve. As a freelancer first starting out, it can be especially difficult and confusing to determine where to even begin. Should you make connections? Advertise yourself? Do a few free jobs to get your name out there? The most important thing you need to do is figure out what you’re trying to achieve. What’s your end goal? Analyze your objectives and determine what quantifiable steps you can take to move toward them.

For me right now, as an emerging photographer, success means networking, making connections, promoting myself and getting new opportunities. Once you have that outlined, you can make an action plan. Sometimes small steps make the biggest difference. For example, to get my name out there, I made some flyers of my images and my Instagram username and posted them in areas around London that I knew models and makeup artists would see them. It took an hour of my time, and around $15 to get color prints, and I’m still getting emails from designers to shoot their lookbooks and new collections.

Say Yes, and Keep Saying Yes. Since I’ve been in London, I made a little deal with myself. I agreed that I would accept all the shoots that I’m offered, even if it’s not my specific niche of fashion portraiture. In the past few months, I have shot concerts, a designer handbag collection, street style for a fashion blogger, red carpet events, and even the London Fashion Week runway. It totally pushed me out of my comfort zone, and every single one of those shoots taught me something new. 

My point is this: while new opportunities can be terrifying, they are are important, if not crucial to expanding your knowledge and skill set. Those shoots made me think outside the box and determine creative solutions that I had never dealt with before. Besides cultivating a deeper understanding of your craft, those kinds of skills will be useful in any potential future job. That’s why I think it’s highly important to say yes, even if that particular job isn’t specifically part of your end goal.

Put In the Work, and Work Hard. This one might seem obvious, but from observing my peers in the industry, I think it’s a pretty underrated and necessary step. You have to put in the work. You will have long shoot days and late nights editing. You’ll have to carry a reflector and sometimes get coffee for people, but it’s not for nothing. It’s propelling you closer to that end goal, even if you can’t see it just yet. For example, I assisted for a photographer in London on a one-day shoot, and it wasn’t a big deal, but I made sure to be as helpful and cheerful as possible on set. A few months later, he came back to London to do a cover shoot with a big magazine, and he asked me to assist again. Because of that, I met the entire creative team of that magazine and was able to make connections with them.

Every opportunity leads to another one, if you let it. You just have to be paying attention. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you aren’t putting effort into actively promoting yourself and trying to get clients and make contacts, they won’t come to you. You have to go to them. You have to be a little pushy sometimes. Make calls to agencies, send a lot of emails, and accept that you’re going to get a lot of rejection replies. They will still sting a little, but it hurts less each time. Send more.

So, while I can’t tell you that adding all the editors of Vogue on LinkedIn will be a guaranteed way for you to make new connections in the fashion industry, I can tell you from personal experience that if you try these tips, you will be pushing yourself and making tangible strides toward the success you want to achieve. And the most rewarding part is that you’ll meet some really talented and likeminded people along the way.

3 Suggestions From Your Wedding Photographer

photography tips

Planning a wedding can be overwhelming and exhausting. I’ve shot a wedding or two–or fifty– and I wanted to share a few tips from a photographers perspective to help create some ease on the wedding day. Here are some things I have noticed that can really make the day go a lot smoother:

1. Scheduling. As wedding photographers, we know that your special day is going to be really busy, and trying to fit everything in can get kinda crazy. What most people don’t realize is that the wedding photographer is going to be with you all day long, so scheduling is very important. Most weddings fall into this general schedule: getting ready, portraits, wedding, reception. But things can be tailored and adjusted depending on the details of your wedding. For example, do you want to do a first look? If so, the wedding party photos can all be done before the actual ceremony. That will save time later so you can relax and freshen up before the reception. Talking with your photographer in detail about the schedule can clear up any confusion and help decide the right schedule for your wedding. 

2. Hotel Decor. Drab rooms with dark curtains letting in no natural light will be the death of your getting ready pictures. Make sure that the room you choose to get ready with your bridesmaids has windows for a lot of natural light. Also make sure that it’s big enough. There’s nothing worse for a wedding photog than falling over everyone getting ready in a tiny room while trying to stay out of the way, and get the pictures you need. Photos of the bride getting her hair done, spending the morning with her bridesmaids, and putting on her gown will set the tone for the entire day, so make sure there’s enough space and light! 

3. Guests. Your family and friends are excited, and want to capture this special moment for you. But a huge problem nowadays is having every guest standing during the wedding holding out their iPhones to take photos. Nothing ruins a gorgeous first kiss photo more than all the aunts and uncles trying to take photos and videos from their phones. I promise the quality of those will be terrible, and you hired a photographer to get that perfect shot for you! Let us do our job of capturing your day and kindly ask your guests to limit the technology if possible.

These are just a few common issues I see often while shooting weddings. The key is to keep your photographer informed and communicate so you can work together to capture such an important day in your life!