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Creativity Photography Travel

Urban stimulants

Photo by Wells Baum (Grand Central Station)
Photo by Wells Baum (Grand Central Station)

There’s a compelling story everywhere you go. But some places (e.g. New York) are more content rich than others.

All you need to do is walk a few blocks and observe with the cerebration of your senses.

The graffiti scrawled on the outside of million dollar apartments, the street smoke billowing out from the sewers, the smell of hot dogs and nuts from the street vendors, the sound of delivery trucks running through potholes, and the scratch you get from someone’s suitcase as they rush by you.

Everything is attractive, a potential a souvenir of the present moment.

New York manufactures an excess of content and inspiration, much like the Internet. Such hyperactivity is overwhelming and hard to parse — some thrive on The City’s ubiquitous stimulus, others feel compelled to escape to Florida to refuel.

External provocation is integral to any environment. After all, that’s why we travel — to be astounded by newness.

If boredom is your enemy, seeking interesting places with variable rewards may be your calling. But that last thing you want is to get abused by the infinite. It’s better to scroll with intention to coalesce out of the void of 24/7 distraction.

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WHITE PL⭐️INS BUS #nyc
WHITE PL⭐️INS BUS #nyc

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Living in New York City, I realized a fundamental truth about dense places: Wherever you are, someone else would like to be there.

Paul Ford
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Another misty day in New York.
Another misty day in New York.

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Photography

Blink snaps

“I photograph to see what the world looks like in photographs.” – Garry Winogrand

Even when I’m not taking pictures with my iPhone I’m taking them with my eyes. This may be a sickness but there’s so much to see, especially in New York.

That’s why I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like for photographers once we’re able to film everything through some type of Google Glass device. All we’ll have to do is go back through our footage and crop out the images we want to save.

Recording everything is not the point of taking pictures. Curiosity is the main driver.

The social sharing on Instagram is just the icing on the cake.

I don’t care much about missing photo opportunities if I can acknowledge a good snap with my own eyes. A little bit of regret is part of the game, the trigger that forces us to keep our phone in hand.

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Blair Small : BSP Training

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Blair Small is an entrepreneur, musician, and photographer based out of New York City. He’s also one of my best friends so I’m happy to feature him as the first guest on this blog.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Blair Small. I’m a personal trainer, a wedding photographer and a musician, in no particular order. I like to take the “Rennaissance man” approach to my life, and pursue multiple crafts at the same time. I don’t consider any of these things jobs, and for that I’m grateful.

What are you currently working on?

Having my own personal training business has given me the freedom and time to pursue 2 other passions – music and photography. The inherent need I feel to create is fulfilled here. I write music on the the name Georgica, and just released a 7-song EP.

Making music that I’m proud of is what I live for. Wedding photography is a relatively new part of my life. My good friend is an amazing and really successful wedding photographer, and has been training me for the last year to be his associate shooter. Having the opportunity to be under such great and constant tutelage has been unbelievable.

How would you rate your photography skills so far?

Shooting weddings is not easy. It’s probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. I was sort of thrown into the fire and given a lot of responsibility from the beginning. At first everything was moving 1000 miles per hour, but as I get more comfortable, things seem to slow down and fall into place. I see improvement every wedding.


“Composing a great photograph is a skill that everyone should have.”


Where do you like to work?

I produce all my music in my apartment, which isn’t ideal, but with today’s software and equipment is very doable. Believe it or not, I often write using my iPads virtual instruments on the train. As far as photography goes. The lesson I’ve learned is shoot everything everywhere. There is never a bad place or opportunity to take a good photograph.

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What motivates you?

Improving my craft is what motivates me. Creating something great is what I live my life for.

What was your earliest ambition?

My earliest ambition was being good at basketball. I remember 6th grade tryouts, all I wanted to do was shoot a 3 pointer, because prior to that, we didn’t play on courts with three-point lines.

What’s one work hack you use that others may find helpful?

With music, there will be times when you don’t have inspiration, or can’t seem to write anything. Don’t force it. Even if it takes a year, that will pass, and you will get into an amazing zone at some point. With photography, you must fail to succeed. Learn from your mistakes. Work to perfect your craft.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about working or life so far?

I know I’ve been lucky, but…


“if you ever have the chance or opportunity to work for yourself, take the risk and do it. You will NEVER EVER regret it.”


You can find more about Blair Small here:

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The Dirty Work

I used to get a bunch of scabs when I was kid. I was always outside exploring the world, playing sports, and getting dirty.

Adult life is too clean. I can’t get my pants dirty before or during work. Instead, I take a bunch of Instagram pictures of the everyday ruggedness of New York to inspire feelings of mental rebellion.

Sometimes I worry that I’m playing it too safe, that the dirty work is the only way to keep moving forward.

“To survive it is often necessary to fight and to fight you have to dirty yourself.”
– George Orwell

Life is a series of bumps eclipsed by success. But it only gets to be that way through risk and rough patches. Life is a sine wave, after all.

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‘City as Canvas’: an exhibition of New York graffiti art

It conveys the urgency of its creation; graffiti was, after all, a crime committed in haste, at night and under precarious conditions.

The world is a canvass, as it is for advertisers. The only difference is that graffiti artists pay through rebellion.

Right Bansky?

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Walk this Way

It happened to my Dad. It’s now happening to me. New York stiffens your attitude and drains your patience.

I used to be one of those walkers that got out of the way of upcoming people traffic. Not anymore. Now, I’ve become one of the ones that stand their ground and make the approaching person step around you.

Occasionally, you’ll get a pedestrian just as rigid as you in your walking ways. But I’ve been winning a bunch of those lately, primarily because I refuse to lift my head up out of my jacket into the bitter cold. The tortoise beats the hare.

Children and women, of course, always get a pass. Give them the right away. But the man with the briefcase is fair-game, as he’s thinking the same thing as you; he who moves first loses.

New York is a Darwinian environment. The trick is to keep moving forward without letting nudgy passerbys break a good attitude.

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