This year has literally started off with a bang… I started 2017 in Time’s Square watching the Ball Drop with over a million of my newest and closest friends (ha ha). Thanks to my friend Jada who I met while working for Disney 10 years ago I was the Time Square Photographer for New Year’s Eve. Which means… Not only did I had all access passes to go wherever I wanted (that includes the bathroom) but my photos would be displayed throughout the night on the screen right under the ball itself! And, the coolest part was I got to capture the true essence of New Year’s Eve in the Big Apple itself! I mean come on BEST JOB EVER!!!
Ok, let’s get this out of the way because I know it’s what you’re already thinking… Did I see Mariah Carey? The answer is Yes, I saw Mariah and like everyone else on the stage watching her had the same WTF moment when I heard Auld Lang Syne in her voice but her lips weren’t moving. She did keep grabbing her ear so it looked like something may have been wrong… Let’s be honest, it’s over do we really care anymore? Someone messed up… the internet went a buzz… and now we are 10 days into 2017.
So, let’s talk about the real stars of New Year’s Eve in New York City.... And that is the millions of people from all over the world that stood for hours upon hours in the cold with no bathrooms, heat, or food. (We’ll talk about that in a bit). I met people from every continent (except Antarctica). Some held their countries flags with pride… others painted their faces with their countries flag. It didn’t really matter where you were from that night because by 7pm everyone seemed to be best friends. People were hanging out trying to keep each other awake by playing games like Ellen’s famous Head’s Up.
eople came from all over the world and for so many reasons. Some of them it was a bucket list item that they had wanted to do for their whole life. Others were just looking to do something unique and fun for NYE. People came in groups of 10 or more and even by themselves. That didn’t matter though because they were all there for the same purpose …to see the ball drop from the most legendary place on earth for New Year’s Eve- Times Square. No matter where you were from, what you looked like, or what language you spoke everyone was there to celebrate the New Year together.
I had the best job because I got to go out and photograph the people on the street in both their overwhelming excitement and exhaustion. People started lining up as early as 9am but weren’t put into their corrals until 2pm. Once they were in their corrals it was game time. They couldn’t use the bathroom or go inside till after midnight. Fortunately, this year was a not too cold. I’ve heard stories of how cold it’s gotten on NYE.
Times Square is broken up into sections that go back I would say at least 10 blocks in each direction from where the ball drops at 1 Times Square. In between the sections and the stages are paths wide enough for an emergency vehicle to pass through if needed. This is where the police and their canine partners, along with the people working the show pass through. At about 11:15pm they start to fill these in between sections with people from outside Time Square or people who were attending events or had dinner reservations at one of the restaurants in Time Square. Just to give you an idea of what it costs to eat dinner at a restaurant in Times Square on NYE…. the Olive Garden which has a pretty prime location for the Ball Drop is $10,000…. That’s a lot of Salad and Breadsticks…
Security was out in full force. The men and women of the NYPD, FBI, and their dogs were hard at work making sure everyone was safe. Because of the recent attacks on crowds at events New York City guarded the crowds by blocking off the streets with Salt Trucks. The Red Cross was also out and about providing Hot Cocoa and snacks to both the police and people watching the ball drop. I didn’t see a single problem throughout the entire night. Everyone worked together… it was seriously the most peaceful and happy event I have ever been to.
Let’s get back to the people! Like I said…. People are on their feet for hours… They can bring in bag with snacks and water and of course as many layers of clothes they can fit on their body. Times Square was completely full by 2pm… That starts the 10-hour countdown.
Other than getting to know the people that were placed in the corral with them people were entertained by playing cards, and games on their phones, watching movies on their ipads, and even taking naps. It’s not easy to entertain yourself in 2 feet or less of space for 10 hours straight. And let me remind you… there are no bathrooms… Some people solved this problem by not drinking water while others wore diapers or of course if they could use water bottles.
Hey whatever works! If you leave the corral your done… Plus there weren’t really any open stores or restaurants anywhere near the corrals. (Although I did see a few people that were close to McDonald’s sneak over the fence and use the bathrooms).
Food also doesn’t make it very far when you have 10 hours… McDonalds and Sbarro’s were absolute geniuses and had people out taking and delivering orders to the people in the crowds. They went up and down about 4-5 blocks on each side to make sure people got food. For pizza, they just made a call and the pizza came to them. There is one guy that I met that was so desperately hungry for Pizza I told him what people were doing… 10 minutes later I saw him again he called out to me with the biggest smile on his face… I got my Pizza! I took the shot and laughed at the simplicity of Pizza making someone so happy!
When I first started my day, the corrals were filled with excitement. People were smiling from ear to ear and ready for the show to begin. They would have to wait 4 more hours before the actual countdowns began. In between that time, they could hear the rehearsals of the Performers going on and every once in a while, Ryan Seacrest, Carson Daly, or one of the Time Square Live X hosts would come to chat with them. Hour by hour ticked by and I watched their energy slowly die… By 6pm when the actual show kicked off there were people sleeping everywhere. Those standing were just barely keeping their eyes open. It would take them two more hours (and super cool hats from Planet Fitness) to wake them up.
I watched their energy build slowly and slowly. With the exception of a few spots you were mostly watching what was going on from the screens that were all the way down the road. Those that were by the main stage and Planet Fitness stage had the best spots. The Planet fitness stage had a great view from the sides where people could see Rachel Platten (my favorite). They could do the Whip and Nay Nay with Silento and they could jam out with Gavin Degraw. These were both also filming locations so the audiences there were often used as fillers. There were people that literally ran back and forth to amp up the crowd for the film crews.
A little funny note… As I was going up and down taking photos of people I noticed that there were suddenly signs in the audience. At first I looked at them and thought… funny a lot of them that are spaced out pretty far have the same writing… And some of the people holding the signs… it just doesn’t make sense. There was one guy that was holding a sign that really seemed out of place… It said I heart Lucy Hale. I looked at him and said… Do you even know who Lucy Hale is? He laughed and told me that the girls next to him just told him about her. Apparently, they go around and hand out signs to people and tell them they have a good chance of making it on tv… Ah ha…. Much more sense.
Every hour there was an official countdown that was celebrated with Fireworks and even confetti. The closer we got the more excited people got again. Purple Planet Fitness Balloon sticks were waving in the air. People were on their feet. Dancing and singing and getting excited again. As the clock counted down I could feel butterflies in my stomach. I myself had never in my life imagined that I would be standing in Times Square on New Year’s Eve… and the icing on the cake was I was THE PHOTOGRAPHER capturing this moment what I’m sure was the same butterflies for everyone else in Times Square.
3…2…1…. Happy New Year… 2017 lit up underneath the ball… Fireworks blasted through air… Confetti with people’s wishes written on them was falling from everywhere… Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York, rang though my ears… people were kissing and cheering and crying… There was nothing but Pure Joy, Love, and Excitement everywhere you looked. My heart was racing with excitement as I ran down the street capturing these moments. People were laying in the confetti that layered the NYC streets. They were throwing it up in the air so their friends could capture that perfect selfie moment. They were laughing and smiling and having the time of their life. And then it started to snow… One at a time people called out It’s Snowing… It’s Snowing… It’s a Miracle… I stood their photographing this emotion and teared up a bit.
This day… this moment was something I will remember for the rest of my life. I took one last look around at the people who were still celebrating… took a deep breath and turned off my camera and caught the train back to Maryland.
I can’t thank Jada & Live X enough for having me as part of their team to capture NYE. I will never forget what it was like to be in New York City for NYE with millions of my closest friends.
Below are some of the performances that took place throughout the night. The production teams that put on the NYE show are amazing. They have less than an hour to break down and set up each performer and set. The performers and production team have one chance to make it perfect since it’s 100% live. Seeing things from Behind the Scenes is always very eye opening.
DNCE performed a medley of Cake By The Ocean and Body Moves on the Countdown Stage.
Thomas Rhett performed a medley of his hit songs Vacation, T-Shirt and Die A Happy Man on the Countdown Stage.
The infamous Mariah Carey.
Rachel Platten blew me away at the end with her performance of Imagine by John Lennon.
Gavin DeGraw performed his hit songs I Don’t Want To Be, Not Over You and She Sets the City on Fire. Silentó performed Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae).Gloria Estefan performed a medley of her greatest hits with the Broadway cast from “On Your Feet”.
And of course the hosts that brought NYE to you from New York city... Ryan Seacrest, Jonathan Bennett, Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin, and Carson Daly.
Behind the Scenes at the Mighty Ball!!! Yes, I had to touch it!
Coming Next are some of my favorite Images from 2016 for Weddings to Wildlife and everything in between!