Photoessay: Vessel

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Hudson Yards’ has a) been photographed to death, usually with an ultra wide and from the inside, b) appears to serve no function other than to allow surrounding buildings to have increased density and have the overall project meet plot ratio restrictions, and c) seems to be created solely for the purpose of Instagram. I didn’t feel like paying the entry fee and surrendering the rights to my images, plus it was raining and miserable (and queues were still long despite this) – so with limited time between meetings, I circumnavigated the structure a few times and made the most of it. It reminded me of nothing so much as an enormous beehive – the warm honey color probably didn’t do it any favours either – but I think the architects made a smart choice by putting the polished copper on the underside and tapering it towards the base so it stays clean; good thing seeing as I have no idea how you’d clean this effectively, either. Perhaps I was a bit harsh with my initial judgement; let’s say it’s a good thing that there are still structures made solely for the sake of art over function. That said, I would love to have been a fly on the wall of the meeting where the initial concept sketches would have been presented… MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, 24-70/4 S, 50/1.8 S and my custom SOOC JPEG profiles.

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Prints from this series are available on request here


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  1. I haven’t seen it in person yet – haven’t been back to NY in several years now – but I sympathize with everything you said. One needs to step back and look at something that’s been this overshared a little differently, and you certainly did. And yes, wouldn’t it have been interesting to hear that first reaction?
    I think what Gary said above about the bland aspirational culture too many residents buy into is true. I lived in NYC for many years, beginning in the late 60s, all over, in 4 different boroughs, in all sorts of circumstances. It’s a wonderful place, full of vitality adn character. But you have to get away from places like this to see that. I do appreciate the way you zeroed in on various aspects of the whole. Wonderful post, thank you.

    • No arguments from me there. Too much globalisation across the board – read: homogenisation – is not a good thing. It removes the point of going to see new things entirely.

  2. Great job – well done, Ming!

  3. I saw it under construction a few years back and it looked like an interesting concept, but haven’t managed to go back and see it since (and it seems ever less likely I’ll make it, these days….)
    Do they make you sign over all rights to photos taken on their premises? How does that work? Is this a common thing nowadays? I don’t commercialy license any photos so I haven’t been paying much attention to how this works or if it’s been getting worse
    Oh – and a great set of photos, but that goes without saying 🙂 I think the tight framing actually works much better than the wide angle shots I see on instagram, certainly a bit more interesting to view – although if I didn’t know the place already I’d probably want a wide angle in the set for context

    • I didn’t see anything to that effect, but nor was I looking. I guess if you were obviously profiteering they would have something to say for sure…

      Wide angle tends to make the thing look a bit too sparse/spindly for my liking – the tele compresses and layers nicely.

  4. Excellent set! Was your visit to the Vessel mostly motivated by appeal to the family or just through personal curiosity?
    Also wondering if you bother saving RAW nowadays for these kinds of shots. Thanks Ming!

    • Thanks – actually motivated by the immediate need to find the closest Uniqlo for a raincoat, and then confronting it on walking out of the attached mall…I would say it was unplanned/ serendipitous rather than a destination.

      I still save RAW for everything – storage is cheaper than ever, I don’t shoot that much and curate a lot more tightly. Also, I’ve had enough requests for image licensing afterwards that it’s worthwhile keeping the files handy.

  5. Very nice work, really the best photographs I’ve seen of the thing. I think this honed-in approach, and perhaps some chiaroscuro playing with strong light, are the only interesting shots left to be taken here.

    As a native of the city I find Hudson Yards to be an awful place. It’s like a physical symptom of the bland, aspirational culture so many of its new residents are buying into. Hopefully you enjoyed your stay and were able to find some more characterful places to wander!

    • Thanks – though I wish I’d had more light to work with; there wasn’t as much shadow/layering as I imagine could be possible under ideal conditions.

      We actually landed up at Hudson yards having been nearby, caught in a rainstorm and needing to find a cheap coat and/or a Uniqlo…the rest of the time, I avoided the temples of mass consumerism – we have no shortage of them in Asia, and it’s generally a bad idea to stick to your comfort zone if there’s any desire to do have some different experiences while travelling…

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