On December 31, the last day of 2009, I had the honor of photographing with Todd Maisel of the New York Daily News. The experience was an insightful introduction to the fast-paced life of one of New York City’s finest.
Maisel covers mostly stories having to do with the NYPD and NYFD, particularly stories in Brooklyn. He is good friends with many of the firemen and police officers, and it is this camaraderie that allows him to gain insight about the stories he is covering.
Our day began in a hurry, and the lesson seemed to be: maximize your time. Todd remains constantly vigilant for stories he can be working on; he even jokingly admitted he was looking for the last “Picture of the Year” for 2009. On the drive from Manhattan to Brooklyn, Maisel had one hand on the wheel, shooting outside his open window for people reacting to the weather. He was always looking for weather images in between assignments, and the snowy downfall in New York provided plenty of struggling commuters, cute children shoveling snow, and signs obscured and damaged.
First we went to photograph a story Maisel was shooting for writer Rocco Parascandola, the chief police bureau reporter. In this situation, Maisel’s working relationship with the writer allowed him to photograph constantly during an interview in cramped quarters. The writer was able to keep the interviewee focused, and allowed Maisel to get in close for the shots he needed.
Second, Maisel went to the scene of a fire that happened earlier in the morning to retrieve a studio image, which is a photo the family provides of a loved one who has died. The police were just arriving to the scene, and the family was gathered outside. Maisel took this opportunity to make images of people inspecting the damage, grieving, and even confronting the landlord of the burned building. After noting caption information and talking to the victims, he was able to ask the family to find a damaged polaroid. He took a photo of this, which was chosen to run in the paper.
In short, Maisel has a strong reputation within his community, not only with the people he photographs but of the people who give him access. Like many New Yorkers, he is ready to express his opinion honestly, and interacts heartily with his subjects. He encouraged young photographers to be friendly to “the competition” as well, as he was generous to the photographers at the New York Post. Maisel has offered his time to any RIT NPPA student. If interested in a one-day internship to shoot alongside “heroic Daily News wild-man photographer Todd Maisel,” please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.