NYC Photo Safari Walk Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

On the Hunt for the Perfect Shot: A Photo Walk with NYC Photo Safari

“All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.”
– Richard Avedon

If my marriage hinged solely on my aptitude as an “Instagram Husband”, I would have become a divorcée long ago. Though I greatly admire the artistry found in photographs, I’ve never been particularly keen to play the architect of their creation or the subject of their inspiration. Much of that can be traced back to my father’s overeagerness with a camera throughout my formidable years.

So that brings me to a confession. A confession as embarrassing for an adult as the admission of not knowing how to swim or ride a bike: I never learned how to take a photograph. I’m not talking about pointing a camera in a particular direction and applying a little pressure to a button. In truth, it takes a fair amount of knowledge and skill to take a great, good, or even adequate photograph. That’s perhaps a shocking admission for a blogger, but thankfully, Lynn has happily filled that void. Whenever I’m asked by tourists to take a photo, it’s a foregone conclusion that I will gesture to Lynn and hand her the camera. “Trust me”, I always say, “You’ll want her to take your photo.” I didn’t want them to forfeit a cherished memory.

NYC Photo Safari Walk Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

NYC Photo Safari Walk Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

NYC Photo Safari Walk Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
St. Patrick’s Cathedral photographed with a smartphone

Recently, though, I finally decided enough was enough and set out to find a way to learn some photography basics in an environment that would be both supportive and fun. This is why I was so excited when I stumbled across NYC Photo Safari. They offer a number of photography tours and workshops around the city, and welcome all skill levels. We decided to join the Iconic NY (P1) tour, which explores classic New York City landmarks and locations such as the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall and Central Park. The group sizes are small, which allows the experienced professional photographer leading the walk to offer personalized suggestions and feedback to sharpen your photography skills.

We were paired with Zim, who is an accomplished photographer with nearly 30 years of professional experience. She provided valuable tips into composition and lighting, as well as other technical aspects. She explained basics like exposure and shutter speed in simple terms, and before we knew it, we were capturing motion blur on a train pulling into the station. Lynn and I love taking tours, and we know that a guide can make or break the experience. Zim had a great sense of humor and was accommodating at every juncture.

NYC Photo Safari Walk Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

NYC Photo Safari Walk Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

NYC Photo Safari Walk Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Though it rained for a good portion of our tour, we had fun and learned a tremendous amount. Three hours simply flew by. While waiting out the rain, I found myself experimenting with some shots and angles. Something I never would have done before.

If you’re visiting New York City as a tourist, taking a tour with NYC Photo Safari is a great alternative to a regular walking tour (or simply hunting down the main attractions yourself). You can pick up some new skills and take home some unique vacation photographs. But if you’re a local looking to sharpen your photography skills, NYC Photo Safari is also a fantastic way to spend a few hours in the city. You can have as much fun shooting with your smartphone as your hefty DSLR. We loved looking at the buildings with a new eye (and getting the opportunity to spruce up our Instagram feed!).

NYC Photo Safari Walk Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
No, I’m not taking pictures of the mannequins at Victoria’s Secret. This window is where you’ll get the reflection shot we posted above 😉
NYC Photo Safari Walk Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
A photo of Noguchi’s sculpture we took for our Rockefeller Center post published earlier this year
NYC Photo Safari Walk Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The same sculpture photographed on the walk with a different perspective

At the end of the day, what constitutes a beautiful photograph is subjective. But learning a few tricks and forcing a change in perspective can give you just the right amount of confidence to find your own point of view. Check out all the tours offered by NYC Photo Safari on their website here.

Pro Tip: Dress appropriately for the weather since the tours are rain or shine. You don’t need to own a camera, you can rent one from them too. Camera phones are welcome, though technical limitations will depend on your model.

Thank you to NYC Photo Safari for partnering on this post.

Pair it with:

A meal at Made Nice

NYC Photo Safari Walk Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

NYC Photo Safari Walk Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Occasionally, we attempt to eat something on the lighter side. Let’s call it “healthy-adjacent”. That doesn’t mean we’ll accept something mediocre and tasteless, which can often be the compromise in such a pursuit. Enter Made Nice.

This fast-casual dining experience, from Chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara of Eleven Madison Park (recently declared World’s Best Restaurant) and The NoMad, opened back in April to much excitement. Made Nice offers a selection of vibrant salads and plates, and a highly popular Chicken Frites dish.

We went with a trio to share: the Nicoise Salad, the Curry Cauliflower Salad, and the Chicken Rice. The Chicken Rice was underwhelming. Maybe after a decade-long love affair with Halal Cart, this was doomed by comparison from the start. I quite enjoyed the Nicoise Salad but the star of the show was the Curry Cauliflower Salad. The combination of Cauliflower Stew, Tofu, Couscous, Coconut, Lemongrass, Watercress, Almond & Grapes was absolutely delicious. I’m eager to return to try out the roasted chicken since our neighbors at an adjacent table were devouring theirs like wild animals. And you might be able to convince me to grab a cup of Milk & Honey Soft Serve Ice Cream with Honey Brittle and Oat Shortbread.

8 W 28th St

Mon – Sat 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Closed Sundays

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– J.

I’m done – take me back to the top!

10 thoughts on “On the Hunt for the Perfect Shot: A Photo Walk with NYC Photo Safari”

  1. How do I love this post? Let me count the ways. 🙂 No, seriously, I found myself nodding at everything you said. I used to hand the camera to my husband because I was terrified of messing up someone’s precious travel memory, and I’ve never taken any kind of photography class either. I can’t tell you how glad I am to have read your post — and I’m seriously going to sign up for one of those NYC Photo Safaris. It’s high time I finally sit down and learn the theory and skills behind photography.

    PS: Love the shot of Justin and the mannequins. Because mannequins. LOL.

    1. Hi Julianne! Your comment was such a lovely surprise. I actually wondered who, if anyone, would relate to my experience. You should definitely check it out. It’s very chill. They don’t bombard you with too much. Just enough knowledge to be a danger to yourself and others. Oh, and I actually said to Lynn, “If we go with this pic, everyone will think I was photographing mannequins!” Therefore the caption.

  2. I really liked how you showed the comparison shot of the Noguchi sculpture, kind of like a before-and-after makeover picture! 😉 The first one looks like an informative text-book slide (nothing wrong with that!), but the second one taken from the low angle makes it look so much more epic! This post reminded me of some stuff my film-buff brother was telling me about, how angles and lighting are kind of the meat of a movie and can be used to convey meaning – usually consciously on the part of the director, but absorbed by the audience’s subconscious. I will definitely be looking at my camera through a different lens next time I’m out taking photos 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Lauren! The process is definitely more fun than I expected. And I doubt I’ll ever approach taking a photograph the way I did before. I may also need to invest in a wide angle lens to use the next time I’m in Astoria (hopefully sooner rather than later). Clearly, that’s the only way I’ll fit those enormous donuts in the frame.

  3. I love the post, and the fact that you did this workshop – it means we’ll be seeing even better photos! 😉 And you had a good time, so what’s not to like? All the images here are terrific! The framing/composition is strong, and those reflections are well thought out. And “healthy-adjacent” – 🙂 As in, let’s not get TOO close to this idea? That tuna dish does sound interesting, but I have a feeling it would be even better with one or two fewer ingredients – what do you think?

    1. You’re very sweet, Lynn. And yes, better contributions from me, but I doubt I’ll usurp the dominant photographic force in this relationship anytime soon. As for the tuna dish, I absolutely agree. Less would certainly have been more in this case. The chicken rice presented a similar problem. The decision to add halved cherry tomatoes felt particularly arbitrary.

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