Street Level

July 17, 2014 33

Where my ‘How-to-look-like-you’re-a-New-Yorker’ guide lists not looking up alongside wearing head-to-toe black, there’s just so much to see at fifteen floors and above.

st-giles-margaret-zhang-nyc

A week ago, Alex confiscated my computer and my phone. It was all too much, he said. The screens were messing with my brain, I was always tired because of it, and I kept walking into unsuspecting New Yorkers while buried in the depths of my inbox and subway map app.

To be fair, they were likely doing the same thing.

Though he ended up caving pretty quickly on returning my phone (it was a beautiful reunion), the computer has remained sound asleep at the bottom of his suitcase, in what he claimed to be curbing my addiction. And it’s true: I probably do have some degree of an addiction. It’s a highly functional one, but unhealthy nonetheless. During semester, I would spend at least six hours a day hunched over my laptop, three with my eyeballs combing textbooks, and four trying to switch focus between both of the above plus the lecture theatre projection screen. Where Google (and other qualified medical practitioners) advise that you avoid doing anything too cerebrally stimulating two hours before bed, I’m writing this at midnight in Los Angeles, and will most likely wake up out of seriously creepy pixel dreams at the crack of dawn.

Whine though I will, the obvious frustrations of only being able to access what’s available to a mobile screen are negligible against how productive I’ve been as a living, breathing human (vs. robot). To the generation with their (well… our) heads so far down every social media rabbit hole we can find, never forget the power or human interaction, whether in a boardroom, or on a date. Liking ‘grams or favouriting tweets does not constitute flirting.

Let us be clear on that.

(And let me also apologise in retrospect to people trying to get through to my other email accounts – you have Alexei to thank).

In a parallel universe, I also seem to have rediscovered the wide-angle lens after a decade hiatus – our first interactions involved gloriously mundane still-life compositions in film photography school. For a while there, it felt too tacky

and commercial. Fashion bloggers were all about that depth of field, and baby-soft bokeh, I wasn’t a fan of the ET vibes that come with frame distortion, and quietly withstood the limitations of religiously shooting on a fixed-zoom 85mm. Now, while it does take a particular styling direction, and scenery, to warrant the extra corner room, I’m hoping to experiment a lot more with the 14-24mm I’ve been toting all over town, to the detriment of my shoulder alignment.

Worth it.

Particularly for this common balcony of St Giles’ loft suite floor – if I’m honest, I’ve never seen the Chrysler Building look so good, nor have I ever stayed at a Midtown Manhattan location quite as boutique, spacious, and well-serviced as The Tuscany. Waking up to this view also made me reconsider the necessity for snapping looks on the street, as seems to be the formula. Certainly, given my usual lack of flash-worship, shooting outside seems to make sense, but where my ‘How-to-look-like-you’re-a-New-Yorker’ guide lists not looking up alongside, wearing head-to-toe black there’s just so much to see at fifteen floors and above. To be amongst it is surprisingly magical, and to be above it usually makes me sob emotionally.

And here ends my ramble, in full knowledge that I’m going to read it tomorrow and wonder what the hell I was thinking (or not thinking) – it would seem that after a week of keyboard abstinence, I am indeed a little rusty. In need of a clear conclusion, I say:

  1. Take a damn break (I swear quitting one piece of technology for a week puts more years back onto your life than quitting coffee, or something)
  2. Revisit old passions (excluding ex-boyfriends/girlfriends/spouses – never a good idea)
  3. Make an effort to do something new every day (even if you aren’t traveling – take a different bus to work, cut your sandwiches in triangles not squares, get the hell out of your rut)

I’m starting to drift.

Over, out, and Z’s.

Look 1: Manifesto Sunglasses, IZZQ Top, Bassike Trousers

Look 2: Valley Eyewear Sunglasses, Beth Richards Tee, Whistles Culotte Overalls

shot on Nikon D600 and 14-24mm lens at The Tuscany at St Giles (Loft Suite)

st-giles-whistles-marg

  • Louise Chen

    Been doing just that, this holidays. Been travelling to cities and towns I’ve never been before with people I’ve never gone with before. A true adventure. Also been going back to old passions: writing my novel (well editing now).

    I loved your post, your writing in general and of course your amazing photography. A fan of everything of yours. Keep it up!

    http://www.thefacelessstyle.blogspot.com

  • Laura Lama F.

    You look perfect! I love the top from the 1st look

    Xx
    http://www.Lauralexo.com

  • I’m just waiting for the moment my partner confiscates my iPhone and Macbook Pro. I even had to go so far as to promise him a holiday without blogging 24/7, though I never gave him a time limit. Truth be told, it’s probably exactly what I need! We’ve actually been doing a ‘date night’ every week this year that involves just me and him, no phones, no technology, just us (even he’s guilty of staring into a screen on occasion).

    And my comments on the wide-angle? Heck freakin’ yes! Bringing it back big time. Of course New York City warrants the biggest and best just to fit in a small fraction of its landscape. And you do it well. You also do midnight LA rambles well too.

    http://www.lioninthewild.com

  • Tracy

    Lovely outfits!

    http://fashion-soup.com/

  • Avanti

    Could not agree more! Though in this day and age, it is very hard to avoid technology! I have given up my laptop for about 20 days because I’m on holiday, only to realise that my phone replaces almost my desired laptop functions!
    What to do?!

    Avanti
    xxx
    Avantigarde.wordpress.com

  • Haha love your writing always, babe! The new lens looks great! Your outfit as well! PS, great tips. I like to try something new everyday:)

    http://www.shallwesasa.com

  • Love both these looks…and have fun with your wide angle lens!

    xx
    Michele
    http://www.roguetutu.com

  • I haven’t experimented with wide-angle lenses, but I’m becoming more and more convinced to explore the possibilities! These pictures certainly encourage me to do so. Beautiful!

  • Jessica

    amen to this

  • Mildred Cheng

    your writing is so eloquent
    i am stunned by it every time

  • monkeyshines
  • I just love reading all of your posts, and the photography is a cherry on top! So sad that I missed you in New York, yet again, even though we were both are Smorgasburg on the same day (according to your instagram)! xo, Van

    http://www.forevervanny.com

  • dannifred

    i adore your writing & these photos are gorgeous

    xx fameliquorlove.blogspot.com

  • Dean Corno

    Glad to have you back!

  • I think its incredibly sweet that Alex thought those through, though I would not be so calm if my tech was confiscated from me. But I guess that really makes you realise how dependent we are on technology now. And I’m thinking of grabbing at wide angle lens. (Since Canon recently* released one!) But I’ve just invested in a decent general lens 18-85mm. Your pictures look great. I think of course, if you were in New York you would have to capture the landscape too.

    http://www.rosa-dyn.com

  • Siri

    Cool Minimal look!

  • I already started missing your incredibly witty written posts, but every one needs a break and I get Alex for wanting you off your computer for a while. Glad you’re back though :)
    The photos are great!
    xx

    http://www.bohemianjourneys.blogspot.com

  • Irene Laura
  • Griffith Ebouni

    Your outfit is perfect. I like white large pants, it gives a fanciful side at the outfit.
    Come to visit my website http://foulards.comtesse-sofia.fr/
    Also enjoy my new article “2 looks pour porter un foulard comme Ashley Olsen”

  • Wow beautiful photos, breathtaking

    XO CHAMA FASHION

    http://www.chamafashion.com

  • fashionruelle

    I am going to NY for the first time next month and I can’t wait ;) I love your photos and blog!!!

    Fashionruelle

    http://fashionruelle.com

  • This is probably my favourite article of yours! These pictures are amazing! I’m all for endorsing a technology detox, enjoy NY :)

    http://www.RADRIENNE.com

  • caro qy

    you are just so fantastic!! Besides, i like your personally mindset so much=)

    http://caroqy.blogspot.com/

  • Katherine Byrnes

    I can definitely identify with you on this post. Sometimes we become so mindless that we forget the purpose or true nature of what we really want to do or never relax tbh.

    http://beehonthelook.blogspot.com

  • Kris

    Digging you and your blogs (:

  • Haha, number two made me laugh out loud in the library silent study area. I totally agree with this. I just moved houses and it’s going to take a while before I get wi-fi sorted out. I’ve found that I have a lot more time on my hands. I also switched off my phone’s mobile data and you know what? Yesterday was one of the longest days I’ve ever had. Long in a good way. I felt relaxed. It’s amazing how much time staring at my phone – instagram, twitter, tumblr etc – consumes.

    Oroma R.R.
    ORRBLOG

  • Between the Blondes

    Completely obsessed with look #1

    http://betweentheblondes.blogspot.com/

  • Getting rid of our screens for a while is definitely a healthy idea. And I do rather love the lack of bokeh in these shots, the photographs have turned out even more striking. Loves!

    http://cequisuit.blogspot.com

  • Man you’re good! So happy I discovered your blog recently! I love your style of writing and your tips at the end of this articel are rather useful..especially No. 2 :D

    Jasmin xx

    http://www.whatdefinesus.com

  • These photos are breathtaking and so inspiring!

    christie | christieashley.ca

  • Hannah Rankine

    Hi Margaret,

    Beautiful post, but they always are. It’s an interesting juxtaposition writing while using the advantages of technology while simultaneously acknowledging the downfalls of overuse. I think highlighting the issue immediately offers the resolution to the problem. The age old piece of knowledge that we’ve all heard a thousand times. “Everything in Moderation!” It’s always about balance. Anyway, I gave up all technology for an entire weekend, that’s two whole days. Nada! All to come to this obvious realisation! Read how my digital detox went… http://hanjanran.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/do-digital-detox.html if you’re interested! I’m going to go back to reading all the archives on here now. Thanks, xxx

  • oli de co

    i kinda like this article and the directions about do’s

  • Charming photos and very well written article! Make my grey day in Paris feels so much better. Now I have to look at my addiction to my phone and my inbox! My bf has been complaining as well but I never admit it!

    Bis.
    http://www.mimivesper.com