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Old April 15th, 2013, 05:40 PM   #1
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NYC tips for a southerner?

It's been ~20 years since I've been in central NYC... only a few jobs near the airports (fly in, shoot, fly out).

Work in DC, Baltimore, Philly regularly, lived in south Chicago for a few years, so I'm not completely un-streetwise. NYC is rather a different beast though - last experience involved being pick-pocketed. Working neighborhood will be around Park Ave., near St. Patricks and environs.

So a question or 2...
- I have to drive in with equipment, and an overnight stay. Any parking/etc tips aside from prayer?
- If I need to walk a couple blocks with a rolling Pelican full of film stuff, will it be stolen immediately?
- Is there a burgeoning black market on 20oz. sodas yet that I can capitalize upon?
- anything else that'll make it all a hoot?

Freelance pudgy bearded lighting camera operator
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Old April 16th, 2013, 03:22 PM   #2
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Re: NYC tips for a southerner?

Here are few things I've noticed:

1. The "Ladies" have moved from 42 St. to 8th Ave. Or, is it the other way around? I forget.
2. Avoid the "A Train" from George Washington Bridge to the "Transit Authority" and the walk to the "New Garden" at 2 a.m. (Did that when I was in the Navy.)
3. The same as above for the "New Garden".
4. One good thing. With all the water and snow NYC got last year, the smell of urine should be at a minimum.

I drove through NYC last summer and I have to say, 'the City' seems to have gotten 'nicer'. I remember as a kid seeing the NY Yankees play in the old Brooklyn Stadium (It was 'Bat Day'), and learning my first real 'string' of curse words from an NYC Hack driver. Mom was so proud of me. : )

In all seriousness, NYC is no better or worse than any large urban area. Keep on your toes and don't act like a victim and you'll be fine.


Don't leave Pelican cases full of expensive gear unattended. : )
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Old April 17th, 2013, 12:18 PM   #3
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Re: NYC tips for a southerner?

"Tips" Yes, the cash kind. NY and Las Vegas are the two most expensive citys I go to when it comes to people with their hand out. I am generally a pretty good tipper but it can reach a point of ridiculousness in those two city's. To save yourself a few bucks carry lots of one dollar bills to avoid handing out more than you need to in larger bills. I load four pockets with ones so I do not show a wad of cash and I NEVER pull out my wallet unless I have to.

Also, if you want to shoot the local flavor just for fun on your time off do not use a professional looking camera. Street performers will identify you as a pro and demand cash or get rude about it.

I do not worry about dragging pelican cases (porta brace is different) around that much, as everyone in NY has a bag of some type. It is displaying good cameras I have had trouble with. I have not been robbed but pro-cameras seem to scream money and get way to much attention. I have been approached for money and then been called a rude rich ****** because the camera was a flag.

Way back in the mid-eighties a mentor of mine taught me "amateurs show off their stuff, pros hide it". I still practice that today whenever I can. It used to be as easy as removing labels from camera bags and such. Now I put camera bags in non-discript duffel bags to cover them up.

Also, I love my Porta-Brace stuff, but it is our industry standard and I am no longer surprised by how many people know what is in it. Baggage handlers, bell hops, taxi drivers, housekeepers, they all know I am a traveling pro and they say so.

In addition to TSA pad locks I use zip ties for everything. Yellow ones so it is obvious if it is no longer there. And they work on zippers. Anyone can get your stuff, but why make it easy.

I have never had anything taken from a hotel room but I know guys that have. I get lax about it sometimes but occasionally I use my laptop cable lock even in my room.

Here is one I DO PRACTICE. Prescription drugs are in big demand these days. Even if you think it may not be a street drug it may be. If I have a labeled scrip with me it goes in the room safe. Who is to say housekeeping may not shake a few out of the bottle in your shaving kit.

I love going to NY City. Times square seems as safe as Disney Land these days. But a few blocks away it may be different, I go there anyway, it is just another big city to me. One of my road rules is I never eat at a chain with a name I know or a touristy place. I walk until I find a locals place so I can experience the real people where ever I go. In NY I have found some of the best tasting and most economical food on street carts. I'm not talking about hot dogs, some of them have damn good food. Look for the long line of people that came out of office buildings and your in for a treat you can afford.

These tips are the same everywhere I go. I hope this helps.

Oh yea, I tip house housekeeping $5.00 EVERY day and leave a thank you note. Money well spent IMHO. They are often overlooked and underpaid, and they are touching your stuff! I have seen the difference between a tip or no tip. They often line your stuff up in straight lines and tidy things they don't have to touch. I could not care less about straight or tidy, except I know I get good service instead of spit and dirty sheets!


PS Somewhere in this section I have another long wordy thread about traveling with gear. You may want to check it out.
Steven Digges
Still learning twenty years later.
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Old April 17th, 2013, 02:45 PM   #4
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Re: NYC tips for a southerner?

Thanks guys...

Tips was one of the big things sitting in the back of my mind... the hotel I'll be working at and the hotel I'll be staying in are NOT cheap (is anything in midtown Manhattan?), and figured I'd have to throw some amount of money at various doormen, valets, etc.

Upside and downside of this trip is that I'll be driving in. Not as much worry about packing light, maybe, but plenty of worry about where to put the dang car overnight, and between checkout and loadup the following day.
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Old April 20th, 2013, 08:12 AM   #5
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Re: NYC tips for a southerner?

Hey Kevin,
I live and work in NY. Things are much safer than it used to be but not perfect. I park in parking lots if I want to leave things in the car but always take care of camera and for me sound. Hardest part is usually getting in and out of buildings. If you can safely move your stuff by yourself than you are probably good to go. Personally I always like a second pair of hands so I can deal with the vehicle after unloading.
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Old April 20th, 2013, 01:45 PM   #6
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Re: NYC tips for a southerner?

Hi Kevin,

I am born and raised in NYC, and old enough to remember the tougher times.

Assuming you are not joking, New York, especially central Manhattan, is definitely safer than DC, Baltimore, Philly, or Chicago.

I see people with all kinds of gear all the time, and haven't seen anybody harassed or robbed. Those are past times you are thinking of.

You'll be shooting in a very safe area, but it is a tourist area, so there may be a possibility of people looking for suckers to rip off. I've shot around there without trouble of any kind.

Keep an eye on your gear, be mindful of getting in the way of busy people and you will be fine.


Last edited by Kenneth Fisher; April 20th, 2013 at 02:35 PM.
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