Throughout our lives we cross paths with so many amazing people. Family, friends, associates, coworkers, people that service us and people that we service. Each individual plants a seed in your life. Whether it be knowledge, a lesson, love or sometimes just memories. It's not too often that we cross paths with people so special that they plant an entire garden in your soul. Niki is that person in my life and after over 20 years of friendship we are still planting new gardens every day.
Since we were kids we both have been 2 creatives. I’ve watched Niki grow into such a great talent and an amazing mother. Of course, sometimes I get tired of the early morning phone calls and the constant crap talking. But I wouldn’t trade my best friend for anyone else.
A few weeks ago, Niki called me up and was raving about this museum near her school in NYC that she was dying to shoot at. I was pretty excited because its been a while since me and Niki had taken a day trip. So off we were. Or so we thought. The plan was to go Saturday. Keeya, a mutual friend of ours, who is an amazing hairstylist, had braided her hair up and plans for makeup were in order.
Friday comes, and Niki’s car had another idea. With a full day of basketball for my children and dad on sports duty my car wasn’t an option. This day trip was going to happen one way or another. Friday turned into possible Saturday and Saturday was a bust too! Sunday morning we were ready to go. I couldn’t carry a ton of gear so I packed as light as I could. In my bag I had my Nikon D7100, the sigma art 50- 100mm lens and a 64 GB memory card with 2 extra batteries, just in case.
On the ride into the city, we debated over music, which is an argument she always loses by the way. Lol. I made her put on Quavo’s new Album Quavo Huncho and oh man did the jokes begin to roll. I was jamming. Dancing and singing along and Niki begged me to stop. She thought the album was awful. I think its quite dope. So I'm sure she was happy to be getting out of the car.
Initially, the goal was to shoot around the hip hop graffiti murals throughout the boroughs. With Niki being a female rapper (follow her everywhere @nikiellismusic), shooting at any of those locations would have been ideal. We wanted to go to Queens for the Prodigy mural, Brooklyn for Biggie Smalls and try to make it to the Brooklyn Bridge. Traffic delayed our plans and it was just before sunset. So we decided to head straight to the Brooklyn Bridge, Dumbo. Of all days that Niki’s gps wants to go AWOL, it would be today. We missed the exit for Dumbo and ended up in Chinatown, Manhattan.
When we got out of the car and started walking towards the bridge, we realized how cold it was. I wore a light sweater with a vest. Like really??? It was about 50 degrees and the wind made it feel like it was 10 degrees. Niki was no better, all of her outfits were light sweaters and jackets with leggings or distressed denim. I was starting to think that this day trip was a bad idea. All of the initial test shots were a total loss. Niki was shivering, her nose was red. My fingers were becoming icicles before my eyes. On the bridge the feeling worsened. The breeze from the cars driving beneath us was truly unbearable. But we were determined to get what we had come for.
We shot on the bridge for all of 20 minutes before heading back to the car. On our way back we enjoyed shooting through the streets of Chinatown and capturing all the lights that decorated the windows of shops and the street lights above. The smell coming from the streets was intoxicating. All varieties of Chinese cuisine had me drooling with excitement. We headed off for our next destination.
The Irish Hunger Memorial was absolutely a site to see. This was Niki’s reason for wanting to come to NYC and I could absolutely see why. It was just after sundown and that made it even more beautiful a sight. Before heading out we stopped over by Niki’s school the SAE Institute in Manhattan. There we grabbed some shots in the subway station and a bite to eat. The street food in Manhattan is some of the best I’ve had. I grabbed myself a gyro and a chicken kabob for the road. We rode through the city listen to some 90’s jams.
Niki decided to stop at white castle and I was asleep before she got back to the car. I told her on the drive there, she only had me for a few hours and my bedtime was about 9pm.
I was super excited about the shots I had gotten that I woke up the next morning and started editing right away. There are some session where I spend hours editing and others I have done in minutes. These were so good I made a few color adjustments and that was all. I brought the images into Lightroom and used a preset I created months ago for another session of hers which I called "Darkness".
It always amazes me what me and my best friend can do when we work together. From photo shoots to videos. We have fun together. Isn't that what it's all about? Having fun? Yeah its work for me, but I absolutely love what I do. Having the support of my best friend and being able to bring her into my world like she brings me into hers is an absolute blessing. I hope to continue to make memories and plant gardens all over the world. With hopes that our garden flourishes with memories we can both share with our children and grandchildren.