Manny Khan’s photographic journey began with the camera in his smartphone, and after a couple years of sharing images socially and generating positive feedback, Manny wondered about the possibilities that lie with a real camera. His first camera was a Nikon DSLR. Manny used that camera to teach himself about exposure, settings, and by watching how-to videos on YouTube and experimenting he found his niche and style. He’s since upgraded to a Nikon Z 7II mirrorless camera that fits his “evolved style of shooting”, as he notes.
His inspiration comes from the endless picturesque streets, waterfronts and skyline of NYC—year-round, being able to photograph these familiar subjects under different weather and lighting conditions.
Manny defines his work as storytelling through his compositions: “combining available light, shadows, color and textures that evoke emotion and drama in my photos.”
When you’re photographing a similar subject often, you end up challenging yourself to make each image uniquely different from the last. The perspectives in the city are unlimited, lending to the myriad ways of photographing one subject so differently each time.
“The layout of NYC park benches is very intriguing to the eye. Pairing that with city views and lamp posts provides me opportunities to experiment with depth of field to frame my shots with the NYC skyline.”
He’ll often use low-angled perspectives or experiment with different points of view to draw the viewer into the image. Manny explains, “[With] Park benches in particular I look for foreground and any elements such as wooden textures and leading lines that may add to the dynamics of the shot.”
The Beauty of Cherry Blossoms
“Cherry blossoms are signs of new life. Their life cycle is short lived, yet they are so symbolic. I have always loved the unique beauty of cherry blossoms and the positive energy they evoke in people. During the month of April every year, it is an absolute delight to capture the cherry blossoms in NYC, particularly on Roosevelt Island.”
Photographing cherry blossoms on park benches allowed Manny to capture two of his favorite subjects—the blossoms and the park bench. He explains, “In the image of the cherry blossoms looking through the arm rest (above), the drizzle and gray skies helped achieve the moody tones for that image.” The image of the bench at night with the city in the background (below) used the same technique, but at a different time of day. Manny was able to use the light from the lamp post in the scene to provide additional lighting, to showcase the rich texture of the bench and compose the image with deep colors.
The Scene Makes the Image
Choosing how to photograph a landscape or cityscape can be subjective. Do you go out to shoot in bright sunshine or wait for gloomy, stormy days? Each of those images will give the viewer a different message. Manny says, “I generally compose my images of the locations I visit based on the weather conditions, surroundings and available light.”
“During cloudy and rainy days, I’m captivated with the gray skies, fog and soft light of the atmosphere—incorporating that with shadows and reflections to compose a dark and moody image, sometimes incorporating people with umbrellas which I feel adds to the storytelling of that particular image.”
“On bright and sunny days, I love to capture the crisp blue skies and glow of sunlight. Those bright and colorful days are also perfect for nature walks and capturing the deep greens, yellows, and oranges.”
The next time you’ve got the urge to go out to shoot but don’t really have a subject in mind, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself to take a new look at an old, familiar subject.