This is why I’m not a professional photographer.

I walked up to Central Park and over to Bloomingdales and back, taking pictures of the Christmas decorations along the way. But when I got home they all looked terrible. I looked at my camera and the ISO was jacked all the way up (making the pictures very grainy) and the quality was set at a very low-res. I have no idea how these settings got there, but this has happened before, and the worst time was when I was at the beginning of my professional life.

I once wanted to be a photographer and through a friend and incredible luck I got two assignments at the New York Times. Which I botched, due to taking pictures with the wrong settings. It was humiliating. And I made my friend look bad. Twice. He was conducting the interviews and was without pictures to accompany the articles. I still cringe thinking about it. (The subjects were Rueben Blades and Willem Dafoe.) Oh God.

This is one tiny part of why I love writing books. I have plenty of time to go over my work and correct any mistakes. Here are a few shots anyway. In that middle one I was scrambling to get my camera up and ready to get a shot of the girl with the purple hair walking by the purple window. It’s not a great shot, but I made it in time, damnit!

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

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2 thoughts on “This is why I’m not a professional photographer.

  1. Well, you’re already one of the best nonfiction authors I know, it would be a little much if you were also a famous photographer. 🙂
    I love your pictures here, they really feel like NYC to me.

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