Manhattan Holiday

Hats, Doors, and Bowties

4th January, 2016

For the first time in my life, I spent the holiday season away from my parents. While I spent it away from my blood relatives, I don't feel I spent it away from family. I spent several days with my girlfriend and saw so many good friends as well. Familiar faces aren't always how people would choose to describe the city but, for me, this is the case.

Some highlights from this trip involved dancing. As you may know I used to be a competitive ballroom dancer, and though I've missed it from time to time I haven't felt compelled to do much with it lately. I took a couple of zouk lessons on a whim, though, and I'm a little bit hooked. Zouk is a Brazilian dance that inherits much of its style from lambada but has the flexibility to pull in elements from other South American dances as well as modern styles like hip hop.

These zouk classes were taught by a hip hop dancer straight from Brazil and were followed by an hours-long social attended by some pretty awesome dancers. The first night I stayed for a couple of hours and the second night we stayed until we got booted at 1:30 in the morning. That's how much fun it was!

As always, I was excited to take a few photos as well. This time I planned a shoot with a friend-of-a-friend who I'd met a few times. She's adept with menswear and knocks most dudes I know out of the park in terms of dress. She recently went so far as to get a "men's" haircut at a barber to fill out the look.

I was particularly inspired by the way she chose to combine patterns. She was able to take stripes, suede, and floral patterns of various palettes and make them work really well together. Good luck trying that out.

My initial inspiration for this shoot was a body of work by people such as Esther Quek. Her so-called "cross-dressing" bends the female gender in a great way and I think that androgyny is something many have yet to explore. When I see a model that doesn't immediately scream "boy" or "girl" my brain enjoys the puzzle. From a social standpoint, this kind of work is important to help evolve the industry at many levels. Designers can target both traditional genders as well as those between. People can wear non-binary clothing. People can wear binary clothing that's meant for another gender. It's really limitless and I like that.

My friend showed me an awesome hat shop, Goorin Brothers, and they were having a mad sale. I got a new, quality, felt fedora for less than $40. The guys in there were really friendly, so go there. They'll take good care of you!

We shot mostly in the Lower Manhattan and Greenwich Village areas, including the beautiful High Line. There are some brownstone rows down that way that provide rich scenery and colors. I wanted to steal this blue door and keep it forever.

I get mixed results with my 50mm Nikkor lens, an older model that requires a focus motor. Sometimes I end up with images that are decidedly so-so, and other times I get something with real punch. This closeup was one of those punchy times, and I'm in love with it! It contains the androgyny I was desperate to capture and also represents my mental model of her personality. I showed her this image — the last frame of the shoot, and the first one I edited — and her immediate reaction was, "My hair looks flat." I'm still using it here, though, because ultimately she's looking debonair as hell.

Happy New Year to all of you! I hope the year finds you healthy, wealthy, and wise. 2015 was a hell of a year in many senses and I hope we can continue the best parts while finding ways to end the worst parts. Eat some great food — I did so at Katz's Delicatessen and Momofuku over vacation — read some great books, be a great friend, and surround yourself with others doing the same. I know I will!