Thursday, February 20, 2014

New Year's Eve in Times Square (Original Post Date Jan. 19. 14)

Times Square, The Big Apple, New Year's Eve. Yes, about the craziest spot you could be on New Year's Eve.

Sunday, December 29th.  My family was catching up with a family friend, Pete Skinner, over Indian dinner when the conversation turned to my photography work.  At that point, Pete exclaimed that he had a close friend, Amy Hart, an internationally acclaimed photographer and filmmaker, who was the official photographer for the Times Square New Year's Eve Ball Drop.  The next morning, he gave her a call to see if she could use an assistant.  Unfortunately, he found that I would have had to start the security clearance weeks before.  Despite that, a few emails went back and forth between Amy and I, and on Tuesday, December 31st, 12pm, I got a call from her.  After three minutes of conversation, she said, “Ok, I'll see if I can get you through security.  I highly doubt it, but I'll let you know.  I'm really busy so I got to go...”  Fifteen minutes later my phone rang.  It was Amy again.  “Ok, so I need you here in an hour...”

Great!” I replied, “On my way!”  Now let's just say at this point I was by no means presentable.  I rushed around as quickly as possible, jumped in the car and, fifty-nine minutes later, pulled up at the corner of 46th and 9th.  I walked the last two blocks (which were already crammed with people), and made it to the Times Square Museum, the location of the Times Square Alliance offices on the eighth floor (the organization that oversees all Times Square events, including the New Year's Eve Ball Drop).

At first, my night's work was going to consist of receiving the best photos selected by the Times Square Alliance's team, processing them, and then creating a slideshow that would be released right after the ball dropped.  It all seemed pretty simple at first.  Due to complications, however, my night's work instead grew to downloading two 32 GB memory cards and two 16 GB memory cards every hour or so (around 3,000 photos total), sorting through and pulling the best ones, processing them, handing them off to the Times Square Alliance's social media team as fast as possible, as well as creating the slideshow.  I also made occasional runs to the photographers, supplying them with fresh batteries and cards.  I began this work at 3pm, and finished it at 1:30am.  And I loved every second of it!  The Revelers, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Miley Cyrus, Blondie, Icona Pop, and all the other performers were irresistibly exciting.  The air was buzzing with energy, and as midnight drew closer that buzz only grew stronger.

Five minutes before midnight, I ran down into the street, where I was able to walk beyond the barricades with the other photographers, TV crews, and police.  I joined everyone in counting down the final ten seconds, and then watched the ball drop to bring in the New Year.  And of course the confetti, Auld Lang Syne, and then the song New York New York closed out the night.  With that people slowly disappeared into the night wishing each other Happy New Year as they went.  I went back to work for a few more hours, downloading the last cards and generally wrapping things up.  This was the close to the most intense, yet fun experience of my life.  Throughout the entire night the energy was stunning.  In all, a great way to start out the new year!

Happy New Year!

More to come!

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