Two weeks ago I returned from the most incredible whirlwind trip of my life. Nikon asked me to represent them at the BlogHer ’10 conference, a gathering of women who blog for business. The audience of BlogHer ranges from style bloggers to food bloggers to mommy bloggers, and it was so much fun to meet some of these powerful ladies who influence so many of today’s modern women!

MANHATTAN.

After flying from SEA to JFK, I checked into the uber swanky Dream Hotel, right there on Broadway. I ran plumb into David Letterman’s studio right outside my door, and was shocked- it was THAT David Letterman? The one that’s in my living room every night? No way. I was there. In NY. The hub of all things cool. I couldn’t believe it. Just look at this place.

The first evening, Nikon threw a super fun VIP party full of awesomely geeked out equipment tables, portraits by Vogue photographer, Amanda de Cadenet, and NY’s finest hunky firefighters (apologies for the twit pic, those of you who saw it. I’m sure your eyes were burning, weren’t they?). Oh yes, Nikon knew their audience. Score.

The next morning I had a bright and early wakeup call. Showtime for my very first public appearance/talk on photography!!!

This sign cracks me up. Hey, look ma!!! In the background, you can see a slide from my presentation on “How To Bring The Fun” to your shoots. After running through it (real quick) and showing some fun images (real quick) we did a hands-on Q&A with the BlogHer attendees and I helped them either learn how to use their cameras to get better photographs, or investigate the lineup of gear to find a camera more suited for capturing great images and videos for their blogs (like the new Nikon D5000).

It was really quick. Wow… not even in NY for 24 hours, and I was done. They set me free. OH MAN what to do…. all by myself…. Explore Midtown on foot, I guess!

My first NY pizza. It was really actually foofy pizza, not really NY pizza. But delish nonetheless. This was at Serafina. Under my hotel. Yep, didn’t venture far.

Everywhere I went someone was filming something. This was for a pilot reality dating show for VH1. A female singer/performer is trying to find love … something about Hip Hop Love.

Off to the MOMA.

This was a wishing tree, by Yoko Ono. It was probably the single most amazing exhibit in the whole museum to me. People were writing their wishes on little tags, and hanging them to a tree. I read three: “I wish I had ice cream.” “I wish I cared more.” “I wish my dad would get better.” I felt like a voyer, spying on people and their most intimate thoughts, even though the thoughts were meant to share. It was pretty heavy, actually, so I had to move on. No one wants to see a crybaby at a museum…. you can’t take this girl anywhere, I guess.

Andy’s cows. Love it.

I can’t recall who this exhibit is by, but they were little photographs framed and tied to the wall. It was really interesting to get right up close to, and there were some interesting parts in there……

I love me some Sally Mann.

And Cindy Sherman. The way she photographs herself is amazing.

This was the single most annoying exhibit (besides the microphone set up for people to just scream into, that was pretty bad as well). It was audible. Let’s just leave it at that.

Who doesn’t love butts? by Yoko Ono. I wonder if they are John Lennon’s butts.

Jackson Pollock’s work is larger than life. I was speechless to see it in person- it’s much larger than on tv ๐Ÿ™‚

Andy. Soup.

Then off to Times Square. I wasn’t about to wander down here by myself (yes, I’m a huge chicken. did you know that??), but an acquaintance (I like to think we’re friends, hi Frank!!) walked me down there and gave me a nice little tour of the important spots and funny little facts (like how the last few Christmases, Charmin rented out a multi-story storefront to put in fancy toilets for comfort. Amazing advertising, yeah?). This place was BU-SY. And BR-RIGHT. And I don’t feel the need to ever go back, but wanted to say I’ve been there. The black and whites are probably my favorite photos from the trip.

Oh yes. Yes they are. 2 foot high Barbie pez dispensers. I would have bought one because it’s one of the most ridiculous things ever, but I only brought carry-on luggage, dangit!

BROOKLYN.

I’m so lucky. I have clients who actually WANT to hang out with me after we shoot their wedding ๐Ÿ™‚ Let me introduce once again, Andrea and Carlos. They’re off celebrating their first year wedding anniversary in Napa as I write this, but they were kind enough to host me after my stint as a public speaker (ha!) for Nikon in Midtown Manhattan. They played tourist guide, showing me some of the REAL places to eat and play in NY, and I truly had the time of my life. It was SO wonderful to get to know them more intimately, outside of the hubbub of all things weddings. I can’t WAIT to see them again.

They even took me on my very first NY subway ride. And we were serenaded by a mariachi band. I couldn’t get over how fun it was…. but I guess…. this is everyday life in NY. In Seattle, if someone serenades you on public transportation, they’re totally wasted. In NY? It’s total entertainment. In fact, just tonight, there was a gal on America’s Got Talent who made her living singing in the subway stations. She was amazing.

Speaking of local joints, my main gal (production and editing over here in the studio) insisted we go to Foodswings. A vegetarian’s nightmare heaven. I had hotwings on a “bone.” They were hot. It wasn’t a bone. It WAS however delicious.

One night, we we went out on the town in Greenwich Village, and learned how to play Cricket while waiting for our 1am comedy show to start.

Then off to DUMBO. (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass). This was a fun neighborhood- it’s like Belltown meets Fremont here in Seattle.

Home of the famous Grimaldi’s pizza. We waited (er, Carlos waited while we explored) in line for like 45 minutes for a piece of history. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the origins of “New York’s first pizza,” and Grimaldi’s is at the forefront of that argument.

This brave soul (again, Carlos!) is doing a Facedown on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Suckers for self portraits (yes, these ARE my personal vacation photos……)

Walking walking walking. We walked across the bridge (it was H O T and the guys selling cool water were making B A N K) and ended up in Union Square. It’s sorta like our Sunday Markets here in Seattle (or kinda like Pike Place Market), where artists exhibit their wares. In fact, this is where Andrea and Carlos found their table numbers for their wedding- they were large tiles of iconic neighborhood NY photography!

One of the best breweries in NY is Heartland Brewery. They have delicious beer. And air conditioning.

Union Square Facedown.

Aah, now onto Canal Street (Chinatown) and Mulberry Street (Little Italy). While walking up one street, Chinese ladies are trying to sell you their “designer” handbag brand names. You turn the corner, and the Italian men are trying to coax you into their restaurant to buy their yummy Italian food. It was quite entertaining!

Hey Vinny! Hey Frank! Meet our two Italian pals (no joke, I have their phone number). Vinny grew up in Little Italy among his friends in the restaurants. By day, he has a fancy day job downtown and by night, he joins patrons at their tables and entertains us with his SUPER quick wit. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever met someone so insanely witty and quick, Vinny, you take the cake! And then there’s Frank (sorry Frank, I forget your real name!!). He’s an amazing singer of Frank Sinatra ballads, not to mention totally looks the part! He even appeared on America Idol and auditioned for America’s Got Talent. This guy is missing his calling…. he should be in Vegas performing! I’m sure he likes NY much better though ๐Ÿ™‚ When Vinny caught wind of our little Facedown adventures, he got so excited and ran around the restaurant trying to get everyone in the picture. He and Frank were the only ones available when we went to do it, and it was hilarious. People were stopping, staring, and asking. Even taking pictures of their own.CHELSEA.

Chelsea was my favorite neighborhood. It was like Capitol Hill meets Belltown. Artistic yet grounded, old yet modern. There’s even an old elevated train trestle that has recently been converted into a park- it’s amazing.

Alright. This may be a little TMI, but it was really hot (i.e. 93) and pretty dang humid when I was there. I was torn whether to wear a skirt and have my legs stick together and be privy to the heat bouncing up off the sidewalk, or wear pants and have them be soaked within minutes. I opted for the pants, and at one point up on that trestle, I was about to pass out from heat. I really did honestly think about taking off my pants…. the heat does weird things to the brain. That’s when I stumbled into the Chelsea Market looking for some AC and a little water.

It was incredible, like the best part of Pike Place Market and the best part ofย  the U Village all thrown into this historic public market place. Elliott Erwitt’s photography was even being exhibited on the walls- I hit the JACKPOT. And then I came across People’s Pops- popsicles made of local farmer’s ingredients. This one was raspberry basil. DOUBLE JACKPOT. The guy thought I was weird when I told him this popsicle saved my life. Did I mention it was HOT outside?

RANDOM DOORS.

Just a collection of images of random pretty doors. There’s such a variety there in each of the neighborhoods.

BACK TO MANHATTAN.

Outside the Dakota, a pretty average looking Central Park building. Happens to be where a lot of fancy people live. And where John Lennon was shot. Check out those guards….. they have to let cars in, close the gates while the passengers slip away into the inner corridors and courtyards, and then open the gate to let the cars back out. Fancy people, no doubt.

Aaaand Central Park. It’s kinda huge. I think I mastered, oh, 1 tiny corner of it. Leaves me something to explore next time I go back!

30 ROCK.

My verrrry first subway ride was from Brooklyn back to Midtown to meet Carlos here. Why yes, I did get lost on the subway, thanks for asking. And why yes, I did end up in the not-so-savory part of town, thanks for asking. But yes, I did make it out okay, thanks for asking. So on I went, for my own private and personal tour at 30 Rock. DUDE. Can we say awesome??

I love the photography lining the walls. Like LOVE LOVE. They’re always so dynamic- waiting through the skits just to see the awesome portraits are one of my favorite parts of SNL.

And of course, we all love the original cast. Cheers to them! What an amazing journey.

Recognize??? It’s only one of the most famous sets in all of history….. the SNL stage!! I have light envy. Check out all that power!!!

Look ma! I’m on the stage! Where they give their opening monologue!!!!!ย  Wahooooo!!!

Look ma! I’m FACEDOWN ON THE STAGE WHERE THEY GIVE THEIR OPENING MONOLOGUE!!ย  I don’t normally lie facedown, but you guys all know www.ilovefacedowns.com, right??? By now I HOPE you know… otherwise you were probably totally confused with the other Facedowns….

Okay, now that THAT was over with…. We walked s’more. This was a church that had patrons tie ribbons for people lost in the war in Iraq. Yellow for soldiers, blue and green for Iraqi friends and peace. It was hard to difficult take it all in and reflect as the ribbons were fluttering so beautifully. They stood for so much pain.

On to the Flatiron District. This was the first skyscraper built in the US, and it’s O-L-D. Isn’t it amazing?

Why yes, that is a Home Depot. Smack in the middle of Midtown Manhattan. Who would thunk?! Probably the raddest Home Depot in existence, don’t you think?

Oh, I love this one. Hotel Chelsea. Carlos and I were walking down the street on our way to meet Andrea after work, and we came across this cool hotel. I looked up and mentioned it to Carlos- he had never noticed it there before!!! It’s so historic- referenced in so many songs with so many famous artist and musician tenants from the punk rock era right up til recently!! I DO regret not going inside, but we were on a mission to find some good after work cocktails.

SILLY SIGNS.

So the verdict? In a nutshell, after you’ve taken the time to read this freakishly long post that took me (no joke) 4 hours to write and post? NY was awesome. I can’t wait to go back. There is soooo much I still want to see and experience. The art and culture was amazing, invigorating, and inspiring (even though these are just silly vacation pics!). I do have other clients who live in NY… they’d better be careful…. the next time the doorbell rings it may just be me and a backpack. Perhaps I’ll wait til Fall or Spring this time, when it’s not so hot I want to take my pants off in public. We’ll see.

To leave you, here are a few random pictures of some of the silly signs we came across while walking. I couldn’t help but to giggle and snap, giggle and snap. Oh, you silly New Yorkers, you. Thanks for the fun times.