Unoccupied Chinatown

If there was ever a regular ingredient, a recurring theme between the countless No Reservations shows I’ve seen since its inception up until it’s final episode, it’s that in spite of what people may think, food is not something you just stuff in your face. It’s more like the common thread between every culture in the world which has the capacity to break all languages barriers.

My favorite routine for learning about different traditions that differ from mine has always been to eat at cultural restaurants. The more we learn about other cultures the less misconceptions and stereotypes there will be. I eat and make conversation with complete strangers to make sense of the world. As I do this, I begin to see a bigger picture and I’m often treated to the beautiful charms and character of people in other cultures who catch sight of my genuine interest. My appeal for exploring is not about expanding a photo archive but to care more deeply for things outside of what I was taught growing up.

It's a misinterpretation to think that travel is all about boarding a plane or driving to a specific destination. It’s more than that. It involves learning about others and yourself and the more you learn the more you see we share great things. There’s something satisfying about venturing into a place and leaving all your beliefs and certainties at home and seeing everything you thought you knew in a different light.

I venture to neighborhoods like Chinatown not just for the thrill of photographing but for the sake of understanding and discovering. Each visit is an opportunity to gain a few more nuances, to uncover detail and meaning in things for which I previously had only the most basic of outlines.

I took this photograph as I stood alone on the pedestrian walkway of the Manhattan bridge at 5:45am in the morning as I made my way into the Chinatown for a photo walk. Exploring is about people, it’s about learning and the fact that I happen to carry a camera with me makes the discoveries I do even more significant.