Walk With Me: New York is a wonderful new photobook by Susan Kaufman, a New York City-based former fashion editor. Creating a second visual career for herself by highlighting the beauty of the streets she walked down but ignored for years; she genuinely reveals the beauty of NYC in all seasons.
Most charming neighborhoods and photographable hotspots are just some of the subjects caught on camera by Susan Kaufman as part of her capture-the-moment project. By photographing buildings and streets from the sidewalk, she creates a route through the eyes of a native for those who miss New York or want to revisit the city.
Here’s our brief Q&A with Susan Kaufman;
NYL: How did Walk With Me: New York start?
Susan: I always dreamt that I’d do a book of my New York photos one day. After shooting for about four years, I finally felt that I had enough photos I liked to actually put together a book. I just needed to come up with a concept. Over time I kept hearing from many of my Instagram followers that they wished they could walk with me and see the city the way that I do. Because of their comments (and encouragement), the idea of Walk With Me: New York was born. So, I have my followers to thank!
NYL: What role did your Instagram account play in Walk With Me: New York?
Susan: I began posting on Instagram way back in 2013 when I was still the editor-in-chief of People StyleWatch magazine. Along with taking fashion-related photos, I also started shooting and posting pics of beautiful and interesting doors that I would randomly see. (I’ve always been obsessed with doors.) Those photos, which I hashtagged #dooroftheday, were always what people seemed to remember and respond to the most. Having an iPhone always on hand and having a place to share my photos (Instagram) motivated me to explore the city more and made me start to notice many things I’d never paid attention to before: shopfronts, beautiful brownstones, architectural details, window boxes, etc. Taking those daily photos made me fall in love with New York City again! And at the same time that I was growing my own Instagram account, I discovered and was inspired by many other beautiful NYC Instagram feeds. It was wonderful to find a community of like-minded photographers who shared a similar aesthetic and love of NYC.
I’m still surprised, by the way, that Instagram has given me a new career —I’ve shot images for the Architectural Digest Design Show, been featured in Hamptons Magazine, written and had my photos featured on architecture blogs, been highlighted on Real Estate sites. I have met so many new and interesting people. And, of course, it led to this book! It’s been an amusing and surprising second act.
NYL: Is there a connection between showing the beautiful and charming side of New York and being a former fashion editor?
Susan: Interesting question! I’ve always been attracted to beautiful things, whether it’s a dress, a building, or a floral arrangement—I think having a discerning eye and a specific point of view is key and can translate into any creative medium. What being a magazine editor did do was to help me learn how to put a visual story together. I like to think of my Instagram feed as a mini-magazine, and the best part is being able to get instant feedback from my followers each time I post a picture.
NYL: What equipment do you use?
Susan: I’ve only ever used my iPhone for shooting—first, it was the iPhone 6S, and now it’s the iPhoneSE. I never wanted to upgrade to a larger phone with a different camera lens because I really like the quality I get from this particular phone. I edit most of my pics with the Snapseed app—all on my iPhone.
NYL: What are your favorite neighborhoods and places? Can you describe your perfect weekend in New York?
Susan: Hands down, the West Village is my favorite neighborhood to shoot. And even after years of wandering the same streets, I can still get lost, and I’m still discovering something new and beautiful. Brooklyn Heights is probably my second favorite place to explore. There’s so much history and charm in each of these areas.
My perfect weekend would include a relaxing morning visit to Pisellino on Grove Street for coffee and croissants, a picture-taking stroll around the Village, a visit to the Metropolitan Museum, a walk with my dog in Washington Square Park, brunch with a friend at Balthazar in SoHo, a trip to the Union Square Farmers Market to buy fresh flowers, hanging out at home with a good book, and finally a dinner out with my husband at Il Cantinori on Tenth Street. (Not all in one day!)
NYL: How do you find the streets when comparing New York’s today and the 90s?
Susan: I was so busy working and running around in the ’90s that I barely paid attention to the streets and the city around me. What I remember most is the NYC of the 70s and 80s when I was a teenager and a young adult. I fell in love with the energy of NYC even though it was so much grittier in those days. There were also many more mom-and-pop shops, and many neighborhoods, like SoHo and the Village, were much less expensive and so much funkier. No high-end boutiques and restaurants. It was fun and a little dangerous at the same time.
NYC has always been about evolving and changing, and while I appreciate that it’s essential to keep the city moving forward, the places I like to shoot are the ones that have a sense of history and old-school New York charm. I’m so grateful to all of the preservationists and landmark committees responsible for ensuring that many historic neighborhoods, like the West Village, SoHo, Gramercy Park, and Brooklyn Heights, are preserved.
NYL: “Walk With Me New York” proves there are also peaceful, cozy, and quiet streets in “the city that never sleeps.” Can you tell us more?
Susan: I think people would be surprised to find out that there are many places in the city where you can escape the hustle and bustle. For example, if you take a walk down any of these Greenwich Village streets: Gay Street, Commerce Street, MacDougal Alley, or Washington Mews–it’s like you’ve stepped back in time. And there are so many beautiful little oases all over the city, like The Elizabeth Street Garden in SoHo, the Jefferson Market Garden in the Village, and Bryant Park in Midtown, for example. You just have to know where to look. I hope my book will inspire people to discover more of these charming and peaceful spots. The one thing I would recommend is to get out and explore early in the morning—it’s the best time to enjoy a more peaceful city. That’s my favorite time to walk!
NYL: Will Walk With Me: New York turn into a series?
Susan: Who knows? I hope so! I definitely have enough photos for a Walk With Me: Hamptons edition.