New York City
As someone who travels for work, I write mostly about places I visit and less about the place where I live, New York. Therefore, when Carla, a great professional photographer in Paris, asked me to blog about New York and be a guest on her blog, I immediately say Yes.
Not only does New York never sleep, it barely reclines. (which suits well my personality). That doesn’t mean you can’t kick back and relax; there are plenty places for that. But if you visit New York, here’s a word to the wise: Pack your most comfortable shoes; Because Manhattanites may not nap much, but they sure do walk a lot.
I am very inspired by New York. I always tell people to carry their cameras. The streets are so dynamic, you can never know when and where you can get your best shot.
Here are some of my favorite things to do in Manhattan and some photogenic locations you want to consider.
6 AM: Grab your running shoes and head to Central Park. Start from Columbus Circle on 59th street and head east and north. Jog around the reservoir (named after Jackie Kennedy Onasis who used to live right by) and then jog back. Grab a coffee to go in one of the two cute little cafes at the entrance to the park.
8 AM: If you are up for a breakfast, my favorite place in my neighborhood is La Pain Quotidien Bakery on 58th street and 7th Ave. Even though it is a Belgium brand (don’t tell anyone) I still love the Parisian atmosphere it has.
11 AM: Head downtown to SoHo area where most of the stores won’t be open before 11 o’clock. Visit the Prada’s flagship store (575 Broadway) designed by Rem Koolhaas and for a minute you can confused it to the Tate Modern than a fancy retail store. Walk around the cobble stone streets and visit Taschen book store, (107 Greene street), Vosges Chocolate (which flavors are inspired by Travel locations) Kate Spade colorful boutique and I’m sure you will find so many more stores.
1 PM: Lunch time. Walk East toward Nolita (North of Little Italy) and make sure you get a table in Cafe Gitane, a French-Morrocan cafes. (242 Mott street). This is one of my favorite places in the city. Don’t miss their cuscus dish. Delish.
3PM: Walk down to the Lower East Side for a creamy dip from Il Laboratorio del Gelato (95 Orchard st.) and try out their honey lavender and black mission fig flavors. Lower East Side has become quite trendy in the last couple of years, crowded with new restaurants, bars, and gallery spaces alongside original stores with some immigrant touch
4PM: Get energized in China Town with a real Chinese massage. (107 Mott st) I’ve been going there for years. A little China town in Manhattan.
6PM: It’s Gallery time. Head West to Chelsea area and cruise with your drink from one gallery opening to another. Thursday is the day! Make sure to check some good ones along Gallery Line.
8PM: Don’t miss the Highline. New York elevated park. I love this place. so many shooting opportunities for Fashion and Architecture lovers. The highline starts from 30th street all the way to 14th. Get off at 14th. It’s the heart of the Meat Packing Area, where boutique hotels, high end fashion boutiques and best chefs restaurants are all centered in one area. Grab dinner or a drink in Spice Market, Fig&Olive, or the Standard Grill and for a second think you are in a ‘Sex and the City’ scene.
10PM and on it’s Party time: Dream Downtown Hotel and its PHD roof lounge has one of the most spectacular night time view. Drinks are a bit over priced but the view is for free.
2AM: Shopping after a long night of drinking can be dangerous to your credit cards, which is why Apple store on 5th Ave and 59th street is open around the clock. This is the time to shop if you want to avoid the crowd.
4AM: End your journey at the Juvenex Spa (25 west 32nd street) the only 24 hour spa in Manhattan. Try the Spa Foot Rejuvenation treatment because after a day like this you must give priority to your feet
Today, 11 years ago, I came to New York.
It was not my first time (I was 20 years old, right after my army service) nor the second time (a trip with my sister after her travels in South America). It was the third time (I was 26 years old and a bit) but this time was not for a visit. This time was to stay.
I remember landing on the evening of December 30th at JFK airport with two suitcases, a camera and a few books. As much as I played it cool and calm, and obviously very excited for one of the greatest adventures of my life, I was also anxious as hell.
I also remember the brief conversation I had with a guy who was sitting next to me on the plane. (after all, it is a common thing we open our hearts to those sitting next to us on the flight, right?) He gave me some basic tips of ‘how to survive the brutal winter in the city’ and one address where I should buy my first NY coat (Paragon).
Today, but 11 years ago, when the immigration officer asked me what was the purpose of my visit, I wanted to tell him that ‘First, I’ll take Manhattan’ but I quickly realized that immigration officers don’t always get my jokes.
I remember on that cold evening of December 30th, I took the Super Shuttle blue van from JFK and handed the driver a note with an address I have never been in. It was somewhere in Kips Bay on the East Side of the city. The taxi winded through Manhattan to get the passengers to their destinations and at some point it crossed the Theater District, just when the crowds spilled out from the theaters to the cold streets. I remember I was so dazzled by all the lights and the flashy signs, that I promised myself not to live in such a busy bustling area.
Well, so I promised! Who knew that a month and a half later I would find a cute apartment in Midtown Manhattan just a few blocks away from the Theater District? And how naive I was to think there are places in Manhattan that are not crowded.
Today, but 11 years ago the days were post-September 11 and the streets of Manhattan were still covered with gray dust. Garbage and debris were everywhere. The walls in Grand Central station were covered with pictures of missing people and those who were lost. Three plus months after the Twin Towers fell down, people were still hoping to find survivors. In those days post September 11 every New Yorker who heard I am an Israeli looked at me with sympathy and tiredness in his eyes as saying ‘Now I really understand what you the Israelis are going through…’
I think the New Yorkers saw a sense of security in me, security that came with my life experience…I really felt safe in Manhattan those days post September 11… but my safety feeling was easily replaced by a chilling discomfort, when I happened to wander into a pro-Palestine demonstration near the UN.
Today, but 11 years ago I was a typical version of a good and naive girl who thought that living abroad is a very brave and courageous thing to do. Since then a lot of things happened. Maybe tons. The naivety slowly faded away and with it I realized that the words ‘Brave’ and ‘Courage’ have so many other meanings.
When I came to New York City a good friend of mine told me that ‘New York sucks you in Sivan, and you can’t really resist its current…just go with the flow..’ and as a swimmer, I know how it works; Just jump into the water and swim.
Since that day, this sentence echoes in my mind me every morning when I wake up. And it doesn’t really matter if I go to swim or not.
Today. But 11 years ago.
Every morning when I come home from the pool, I walk through Columbus Circle and look up at the digital clock of CNN. I check the time, the current temperature and the date.
These daily habits have become part of my life. They make me laugh.
Every year, on the 30th of December, when I look at the date on the digital clock at Columbus Circle I call my sister or my parents to announce the number of years I have been living in New York City. It also became a habit.
Every year, on the 30th of December I look back at the year that has passed and measure all the things I have done. At the same time I also define my goals for the New Year ahead. New Year resolutions they call it here.
Every December 30th. Every year.
Wishing everyone a happy New Year and great New Year’s resolutions. May all your dreams come true
…this is my New York through the years…
As I wrote in a previous post, the truth is that I don’t know how to cook.
If you see me in a cooking class, it will not be a mistake or a fata morgana. I will be there for the sake of photographing first and eating after.
I was really happy to hear that Chef Constance from Cook’n With Class, whom I met few months ago during a Morning Market Class in Paris, was coming to NY, my hometown to teach a SeaFood class in Haven’s Kitchen in the West Village.
Meet Chef Constance:
I admire Chef Constance for her charisma and how serious she is about food. The way she talks to people and explains them about the elements of the dish they are about to cook, the way she instructs how to use the cooking tools, and the way she does it both in French and in English, are all things I wish I could do. The only hint about her goofy and playful character is in her un-matching socks she is wearing.
She started cooking when she was eight years old. She used to make cakes every Wednesday in a pastry school. As she didn’t want to go to Ballet classes, her mom made a deal with her: She could go to the cooking class if she would take a Ballet class as well. So she did.
When she turned 15, she started a culinary school for five years. She admits the school was quite demanding, but it was the best training to learn the reality of this job. Some of her training were in Le Bristol, Le Meurice and The Ritz, all five stars hotels in Paris. When school was over she headed to the Four Season Hotel in Palm Beach, in order to practice both her culinary skills outside of Paris and improve her English.
When she got back to Paris, she got hired as a chef for the American Embassy and the Unesco Ambassador and afterwards she was part of establishing a new restaurant with the sous chef she worked with in Le Bristol, called Le Cristal de Sel. Mind you, she was not even 30!
After eight years of cooking she joined Cook’n with Class as she felt she was ready to teach others how to cook. If you visit Paris, I highly recommend to book a cooking class with Chef Constance. If you can’t make it to Paris yet, then check Chef Constance’s blog where she shares all the good recipes and the techniques she learned all over the world.
She specializes in fish and sea food. As I share with her the love of swimming, Constance used to do swimming races during her Summer days so it was quite natural for her to go towards products from the Sea.
This is why she taught that great Scallop class in Haven’s Kitchen.
The Location: Haven’s Kitchen
Haven’s Kitchen is a two-story-about to be-three stories space for cooking classes, events venue, a neighborhood’s cafe and a gourmet shop. All in one place in West Village. It became a gathering place to reconnect people with food and the community. The classes varies from beginners, wine tasting, barbecue and grilling, Holiday cooking and seasonal classes. As the classes vary, so do the chefs. Constance is not a permanent resident but a guest from Paris. How great is that to be in New York, in such a great school with a chef all the way from Paris!
I love the design of Haven’s Kitchen. The front of the store is a little cafe with a gourmet store and pantry. A tall wood table in the middle of the store, where people can sit, sip their coffees and read some cooking books, all left around on the tables. The pantry sells mostly Made in Brooklyn-Made in New York brands such as delicious jams, teas, chocolates, wines and honey. And then…the kitchen! Big working tables, tons of jars filled with herbs from all over the world, pans, pots, plates of all sizes, utensils and more. Such a well equipped space that makes the cooking seems so easy and obviously, enjoyable.
The second floor has a great space which is rented for some food venues and events and a wine tasting bar. The third floor will have more room for classes in the near future. The space is definitely a cooking Haven.
The Class: Sea Scallop
Even though it might sound easy, It takes longer to make Seas scallop poached into a lettuce leaf with creamy leeks and smoked bacon and Sea scallop roasted with a crust of parmesan cheese with baby spinach than eating it. And yet, all the eight women and the only man who were part of Constance’s class, listened very carefully to what she said and followed her instructions.
In the end it was a lovely dish, accompanied with Baguette and butter, French wine and a citron flavored creamy dessert that Constance prepared in advance.
I wish the pictures could transfer the taste but meanwhile… if you want to try it at home, contact Constance for the recipes.
You know it is the Holiday Season in New York by the window displays in the big department stores. A week before ThanksGiving, the windows, which were covered and under constructions, are getting revealed and unveiled with its Christmas decorations.
I must admit that from all Midtown department stores windows displays, Bergdorf Goodman is, by far, the most creative and interesting one. It has been like that for years. And yet, if there is a trend in this year holiday window displays, it has something to do with interactivity.
David Hoey, the creative guru of Bergdorf Goodman’s windows’ display was inspired this year by the Jazz Age. In an audio tour he talks about The BG Follies of 2012, and how he was inspired by entertainments such as the Ziegfeld Follies, Vaudeville revues and Busby Berkeley’s Hollywood musicals of the 1930s.
Act I: By Request
In this first window, there is a black and white homage to Marilyn Monroe in Billy Wilder’s movie Some Like It Hot. The Window is featuring a bird’s eye view of fashion from Marc Jacobs, 3.1 Phillip and Elie Saab. The bird’s eye perspective, according to Hoey, is a well known trick in the design world and in the window displays’ arene and his creative team loves to use that perspective.
Act II: Naughty and Nice
The second window is a tribute to burlesque performer Sally Rand, the inventor of the risque fan dance. The main and only character in this window is covered in thousands of white feathers, used as a mosaic and was constructed feather by feather (!!!) I can’t even imagine the patience needed for this entirely white window.
The third window showcases a collection of mid-century miniature American mannequins once used for display and merchandising, as well as for sewing practice. It is already well known that David spends months over months, building up these collections until the time is right to use them. So this year Hoey decided it was the right time to use his miniature mannequins collection as 1920s Ziegfeld Follies girls on fifteen miniature stage reproductions made from replica 18th-Century wood moulding in A Cast of a Thousands.
Act IV, Daredevil Act
The forth window (which is my favorite) is Bergdorf Goodman’s novelty act, featuring a runway look from Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen’s Spring 2013 runway collection. As David said, every show needs a novelty act, and Bergdorf Goodman’s highlight this year is the 24 plaster dogs performing every trick under the sun. ‘Our windows are a practice in making the impossible possible — in twisting complexities to new levels by using old-world craftsmanship and artistry’ David says. Every surface of Act IV is covered in gold and silver leaf. I just love the red and gold combination and the dogs’ character.
Act V, The Finale
The fifth window’s installation, is a giant mirrored, rotating kaleidoscope. David and his team were sketching prototypes until the team discovered that beveled mirrors moving in both clockwise and counterclockwise movement created the best result. Approximately 1,000 individually beveled mirrors were used to create this kaleidoscope set into motion by seven separate rotating motors. The effect should be dizzying, psychedelic… an homage to Busby Berkeley’s overhead kaleidoscopic camera shot seen in Footlight Parade. To complement the mirrored effect in this duo act are two custom-created gowns from Naeem Khan.
Make sure to check out the Behind the Scene of Bergdorf Goodman’s Holiday windows. You will be amazed of how many people, hours and thoughts are invested in this experience called Bergdorf Goodman Christmas Display. The crew has been working for weeks but the theme has been thought for months already.
The windows will be up till January 3, so if you are in New York, make sure to see them.
It all started with a random shot of my sister when we were visiting Paris on June for my Birthday. We were walking in Montmartre and we found this beautiful Parisian cafe in Rue Gabrielle, with its amazing red doors and facade. I knew it would be the perfect backdrop to take a picture of hers.
Well, actually this is not exactly when it started.
A few months ago I have launched a new photography service in Manhattan (where I live) called ‘New Yorker for a Day’ in which I offer a photography session for tourists who come to visit the city and want to experience it in a different way and leave it with a long-lasting souvenir. As this service became quite popular among tourists and even among New Yorkers who want to have their pictures taken in the city they live, and since I am visiting Paris few times a year, I have decided to expand it to Paris as well and offer my service in the City of Light.
What can be better than feel like a real Parisian, at least for one day?
For more information and to find out when I am in Paris, drop me a line or send me an email.
Some posts don’t require words. The pictures speak for themselves.
The Fall season is (in my opinion) the most beautiful and romantic season in New York. I feel lucky enough to live only three blocks away from Central Park and experience the changes of the seasons on a daily basis.
Central Park these days looks like it is a part of a Rorschach test, isn’t it?
Happy Fall Season Everyone!
I’m really honored to be featured again in one of my favorite and inspiring blogs, Design Sponge.
I met Amy for coffee the other day, just before I headed for a shoot. When I told her about my new photography sessions ‘New Yorker for a Day’ that I am now offering for tourists and others, she loved the idea and wanted to know more about it.
To read the full article, please click here.
Thanks Amy and Grace!
Calvin Kelin’s provocative billboards do not cease to amaze me. The picture above was the first one I took. I was so impressed!
Maybe because of the size of the ad, maybe because of the daring look on the models’ face, or because they looked so real; like they were watching us, the people in the street, watching them… or maybe because I loved how the backdrop of Manhattan, north of Houston street, worked well with that ad.
Since that day, every time I get off at Broadway and Lafayette subway station, the first thing I do is look up at the Calvin Klein’s ad and see what’s up. No doubt the sultry billboards on the corner of Houston and Crosby street, a series of Calvin Klein ads, have raised some eyebrows even for a city that has seen it all.
And this is no wonder; Calvin Klein has a long history of advertisements that push the envelope. It started way back in the 1980 to when nothing came between the 15 years old Brooke Shields and her Calvins, continued with the ‘heroin chic’ look back in the 1990s with strung-out-looking models, complete with pale skin and dark circles under their eyes and continued with Eva Mendes in sexy lingerie, pulling a boxer brief of a studly looking guy.
For someone who is coming from the advertising world, I must admit that Yes, advertising DOES work!
At least for us. Because right after I saw that Eva Mendes ad, I went straight to the nearest Calvin Klein store in Soho, to get myself those black panties and bra.
Those huge billboards have become a common view on that corner. They fit well with the nature of New York; daring, provocative, sexy, hot. Since that first time I saw those ads, I keep coming back. And every time I get off at Broadway Lafayette, I have to take a picture. Because there is always something to look at.
The Israeli Fashion and Lifestyle magazine ‘Go Style’ is featuring my new Photography session ‘New Yorker for a Day’ in the June Issue as one of the things to look for!
I love how they call it ‘Sivan and the Big City’. Love it when my name is becoming an item.
How many times did you visit New York and wished to have at least few decent pictures of yours in that photogenic city? How many times did you visit the city and wanted to look or feel like a real New Yorker? When I travel to other places in the World, trotting with my camera, I always wish to have at least one or two images of myself that will capture the real essence of the place and myself in it.
When my friends come to town, they know I will not only show them around all the cool-trendy-untouristy locations but also photograph them there. And when they leave back home, they know they have a souvenir of Manhattan. (After all, a picture IS worth a thousand words)
I am offering my service as a photographer to those who visit the city and want to be photographed in an artsy-fashion-New York style. I will show you around some of my favorite locations and spots and all you need to do is to look good. It is great for a mother-daughter gateway, girlfriends who visit the city, birthday gifts, bachelorette parties, or just for those who love New York for no reason.
Next time you are in Manhattan, drop me a line or send me an email.