Saturday, April 21 , 2018, 2:40 pm | Fair 70º


Jordon Wrench: A New York City Block

A random act of kindness turns into an opportunity to work for Microsoft

A New York City block seems longer than it should, especially when the sun is directly overhead, and even more so when the temperature outside is over 85 degrees and steadily rising. I carried only my camera, and for the man struggling across the street with two large 5-foot-by-5-foot canvases, this particular New York City block must have seemed to stretch for miles.

My legs were urging me to continue back toward my rented apartment, but the good Samaritan in me decided to stop and help. The two canvases turned out to be four — two packages of two. Those four canvases were then carried an additional 11 blocks before arriving at their destination, the headquarters for Internet Week New York at 125 W. 18th St. The annual event showcases the city’s thriving Internet industry and Web community.

The author, Jordon Wrench, on patrol in Manhattan.
The author, Jordon Wrench, on patrol in Manhattan. (Wrench family photo)

What had started as a simple act of kindness soon turned into a full-on project as I helped remove the canvases from their packaging and stored them in a corner. It was at that moment when I realized exactly what was going on around me. Wall-mounted displays were being set up, ladders were being erected, people were yelling and scurrying around frantically to put the final pieces together for their presentations.

I took my camera from my shoulder and began taking pictures. I was already 35 minutes late in getting home and my dad was never going to believe where I was. I continued snapping away until the man who had enlisted the good Samaritan in me to help carry canvases stopped me with a hand on my shoulder. He then enlisted the photographer in me to take pictures at the venue the next day while he painted.

This man was Craig Collins, a New York artist. He had been hired by Microsoft to do a live painting as a presentation for a new program called Microsoft Expression. The people at the venue who had hired Collins heard that I was taking pictures for him, and they then decided to employ me as a photographer, as well. And so ends the story of how I came to work for Microsoft while on vacation in New York in early June.

The venue opened the next day and I showed up at 12 p.m. sharp. I was outfitted at the door with a media tag that let me get into all the rooms and different locations of Internet Week. I took pictures of the latest technologies, I sat in at the latest debates over Web-based advertising, and I stood by and photographed the progress taking place in Collins’ paintings. I went to all of the different venues taking place in New York and at the end of those three days, I delivered a flash drive containing the best 200 shots I had taken.

A New York City block seems longer then it should and, for some people, a New York City block must seem to stretch for miles. For one individual on that faithful day, the burden of that mile-long block was cut in half. For the individual who helped, his New York City vacation was turned into an experience of a lifetime.

— Jordon Wrench is a student in Santa Barbara High School’s Multimedia Arts & Design Academy. Craig E. Collins is a New York-based artist/designer.

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