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Posts Tagged ‘New York’

 

My Well Traveled Year of 2015

 
 

For the last few years, or actually since my blog exists, I am trying to keep up with the tradition of writing a summary of my previous year in terms of my work and travels. Looking back at my previous posts from previous years (20122013, 2014) is a great opportunity for me to see my growth personally and professionally.

2015 has been quite a busy year for me. I’ve been traveling to Europe, the US and Africa. The latest has been an eye opener experience I will not easily forget. And while I was back in Tel Aviv, I was busy shooting stories in the city for various magazines in Europe. Tel Aviv seemed to be a popular destination to write about.

In January I have travelled with my boyfriend to Val Gardena, in the Dolomites of South Tyrol. As a semi pro skier, he wanted to teach me how to ski. Since I have never skied before (not even when I was living in New York) and after three try outs that failed to keep me standing still on the snow, I have preferred to take pictures and document others skiing, then sliding the snow slopes myself.

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The end of February took me to Portugal again, this time to the Azores Islands. First I flew to Lisbon’s airport and from there, a direct flight of SATA Airlines took me to São Miguel Island, the biggest island of the nine. São Miguel was a great combination of wild nature and old heritage. The island’s volcanic craters and green mountains were some of the most remarkable sights I have ever seen. I also visited Terceira Island for one day. It is a much smaller island than São Miguel, but also rich in terms of natural sights.

I tend to be a more ‘city-dweller’ traveller but the Azores experience has taught me to enjoy the low-key and slow paced kind of travel.

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Right after The Azores, I took a flight back to the mainland of Portugal and straight from Lisbon’s airport, I hopped on a train, taking me to The Algarve. The Algarve is Portugal’s southernmost region, and is known for its sunny Mediterranean climate and its curvy beaches. I visited during the first week of March so weather was not that warm and I couldn’t really relax at the beach, but nonetheless, I could enjoy watching the brave surfers who attend the cliffy beaches of Sagres.

The month of April was one of the busiest months for me this year. And one of the most travelled.

I was lucky to have a great opportunity to join Safari Company for 10 days in Tanzania and Zanzibar to document some of the greatest and luxury resorts at the foot of the Kilimanjaro and around. It was not a typical Safari trip for me. In fact, I visited the Ngorongoro Conservation area only once and managed to spot lots of zebras and few elephants.

I have visited South Africa twice when I was a little girl, but back then, I was too small to carry a camera and too young to remember. But this visit to East Africa was an eye opener for me.  The endless sights and photo-ops while we were driving from one place to another, left me awaken and alert most of the time. My mind was consuming so much colors and sights that six days in Tanzania seemed much longer.

One of the most memorable experience was to spend a night in Arusha National Park, in a luxury tent and wake up at 6am by a glorious sunrise overlooking the Kilimanjaro.

Right after Tanzania, we flew to Zanzibar for four days of relaxation and change of scenery. Seeing more shades of blue and turquoise than shades of greenery. We stayed in some of the greatest luxury hotels, including The Baraza Resort, which was quite magical, designed in an Aladdin’s style.

Zanzibar is beyond wild and beautiful. I wish I had more time to explore this reef. There were so many times I wanted to jump off the car and photograph all the sites I saw. The vivid colors of clothes and fabrics worn by the women there could be well captured by my lenses (if only I could follow them) but the locals were already sort of ‘trained’ and tend to hide or run away from the camera or even ask for money to be photographed.

I made a note for myself to come back there one day, but more for vacation, and less for work. Who knows… maybe in 2016.

Ten days after I came back from Zanzibar, I found myself on the plane again. This time to Sicily, with Meirav, a good friend of mine, who is the perfect partner for girls trips. We tend to have a yearly tradition and fly the two of us to a new destination we both wanted to visit.

Sicily was a destination we both wanted to explore and see. We didn’t even have to convince each other. We toured the island for seven days mostly in the East- North part of it. From Syracuse to beautiful Taormina, driving to Erice, staying at the beach side of Cefalu and the high light of the trip, Scopello, a tiny village on the coast between the fishing and resort town of Castellammare del Golfo and the Zingaro nature reserve.

If you plan to visit Sicily this coming year, I highly recommend to book a room at Tonnara di Scopello, an old tuna fishery village converted into a small hotel.

Beyond the beautiful sights of Sicily, the old Sicilian villages on the mountains and beyond, the rough and funny Sicilian characters, the food was great. Especially the desserts. Where else can you get a gelato in a brioche? or Cassata Siciliana? Not to mention the well known Cannoli.

Indeed, I saw only a small part of Sicily, and I wish I had more time there. Next time there I plan to explore the south part of Sicily or maybe one of its Aeolian islands. Even though I was there in April, which is an off season, I wish I could travel in a warmer month (despite the mass of tourists) and could have a dip in the ocean.

June was quite a big month for me. I turned 40!

I am not a big celebration person, and prefer to keep my birthdays very low key or hush hush, even if it is a round and significant number. Therefore, I have decided to celebrate it in New York (my second home) only with my boyfriend. It was his first time in New York and for me it was like coming back home.

We were in New York for a month. Even though I have been living there for 12 years, it is never enough for me. It was a great month catching up with my friends and colleagues and showing my boyfriend my favorite locations. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my big 40th.

On the day of my birthday I have decided to visit the new Freedom Tower observatory which was recently opened. It was a great opportunity to see the city from the 100th floor, a view I have never seen before. (in fact, not since September 11th events). This month flew by too quickly for me. A New York minute is always too fast and I can’t wait to visit it again.

During the first week of July I flew to Portugal again (second time this year) to participate and document the Festa dos Tabuleiros in Tomar, Central Portugal. Together with other photographers and journalists from Europe, we were invited by the tourist office of Central Portugal and got a special glimpse of the festivities and preparations. The Feast of the Trays or Festa dos Tabuleiros is taking place every four years in Tomar and the citizens of the city are getting ready for the big celebrations a few months in advance. They spend hundreds of hours making endless number of paper flowers to decorate their streets. While visiting Central Portugal, I have stayed in some great hotels, Eco Friendly hotels which became very popular recently. You can read more about them here.

I had only two days (or actually a weekend) in between leaving Portugal and flying to Spain, to photograph two stories for Wine Spectator Magazine, one in Priorat and the second in Costa Dorada, both in the Catalan region. Apparently, it was one of the hottest weeks of July and it was quite unbearable to be outdoors during noon time. Lucky Spaniards, they have their special Siesta, but it didn’t really affect me. I continued hopping from one vineyard to another, meeting interesting wine producers, vineries owners and sommeliers.

It was my first time shooting a wine story for a big and important magazine such as Wine Spectator. And I must admit, I have learned a lot about the importance of wine and the culture around it. This time I had a glimpse to a small region in Spain though and I hope to keep shooting more wine stories in the next years to come.

In the first week of October I traveled to the French Riviera with my mother. It was one of her dream destinations to travel. Monaco in particular, as she was curious to get a glimpse to the life of Princess Grace Kelly and her daughters. We stayed in Nice for five days and from there we drove the scenic roads along the coast. One day we drove west to the direction of Antibes and walked around the old city. The other days we drove east toward the Italian border and we stopped in various regions such as the colorful Villefranche Sur Mer with its great bay and fishing boats, Monaco and Monte Carlo with its high rise buildings, massive glitter yachts, the palace and the casino. My favorite towns were Cap Martin and Cap Ferrat, where we visited Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. On the last day we drove all the way to Menton, which is right next to the Italian border and known for its Lemon Festival.

Weather was great, even though it was already October, the beginning of off season. Indeed, we didn’t dip in the ocean, but at the same time, we didn’t get stuck in massive traffic jams along the coast, which is very typical for the Summer.

Traveling off season has lots of benefits. It is definitely a trend I would continue in 2016.

French Riviera-7

My last trip in 2015 was in the last week of October, when I traveled to Tuscany with my boyfriend. This trip actually made it my third visit to Italy this year. Not that I have planned it in advance, but that’s the beauty of traveling. I have never been to Tuscany. Few years ago I have traveled to Florence on my own for six days, but I have never stayed in the countryside of Tuscany.

We stayed in a nice resort in Fontebussi, and from there we drove around everyday to a different city; We spent one day in Siena, visiting its grand Duomo, drove to Florence to meet my photographer friend Peter, had a delicious long lunch in Arezzo and visited the tall towers of the medieval hill town San Gimignano.

I highly recommend to visit Tuscany in the Fall. The changing colors of the tress and the beautiful orange foliage add to a special atmosphere in this region. It matches perfectly with the yellow-orange-pink colors of the Tuscan buildings.

This time of the year I tend to read the various lists of the Travel magazines and their recommendations where to visit in the year ahead. I make notes to myself, I read more about the places I am curious about and sometimes I even start to make plans in advance.

However, the nature of my business is surprising and not always planned and expected.

I can only wish myself that 2016 will be as exciting, well travelled, inspiring and photogenic, like 2015 has been.

Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year

xo

 

 
 
 
 
 

My Busy Year of 2014

 
 

I was planning to write this post right at the end of the year, but got caught up on some work and found myself already scheduling trips for the new 2015 year. Looking back at the images I took throughout the year and the new stamps in my passport, there is no doubt about it; 2014 was a very busy year.

When you do what you love mostly for a living, means you are willing to commit more and more time to your work and think about it 24/7. Not once did I say to some of my friends who are also creative independents that ‘I am my work and my work is me’. Taking a day off is usually taking a day off from myself. Or from my creativity, my head or from the way I look at things. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t complain. I am happy when I am busy and I can be climbing on walls when I’m not.

2014 was a year in which I ‘jumped’ on almost every opportunity I got and I didn’t hesitate to book flights and trips with minor preparations. ‘Don’t Think too Much but See What Happens’ was sort of a mantra.

At the end of February I traveled to Central Portugal. It was a new destination to explore that didn’t fall from Provence or Tuscany. I have visited in Coimbra and got a special permission to shoot the magical library in Coimbra’s University. I have shot many colorful Portuguese tiles in Aveiro. I walked trough olive groves, almond trees and vineyards in Alentejo, stayed in some chic wine hotels such as Casas Do Coro and Casa Des Penhas Dourades  and caught up with good friends in Lisbon and Sintra.

Central Portugal

Alentejo

Later on in March I flew to Paris to shoot a Patisseries Guide to Paris. By all means, it was the sweetest assignment of the year; sweet as the Mont Blanc Patisserie in Angelina (which, by the way, was the first Patisserie I shot on that assignment). But it was also a very hectic and intense four-days-shoot in which I had to photograph 32 patisseries all across Paris. During this sweet assignment, I met and photographed some of the top Patisseries Chefs in France, got into their kitchens (some of them are quite secretive) tasted the best Eclairs, Paris Brest, Saint Honore, Mille -Feuille and Macaroons. Here are some of the ‘Behind the Scenes’.

KITCHENS, patisseries in Paris

Patisseries in Paris

Right after completing my sweet adventure, I shot a great story for Feast Magazine about Rue du Nil. I got a glimpse into one of the smallest streets in Paris, (exit metro Sintier) a street which happened to set a new tone in the culinary scene in Paris. I happened to discover some of the most friendliest chefs, interesting store owners, a really good coffee spot I went back to and of course, some really good food. Luckily, a good friend of mine who has a great sense of style, joined me to this assignment and together we explored this 2nd Arr gem.

After spending two weeks in Paris, I have decided spontaneously to travel down south to the French Riviera and spend some time with two friends of mine; Liza, who was living in Nice with her husband (but was ready to move to London) and with the talented photographer Millie Brown, an Aussie expat who lives in Beaulieu-sur-Mer and photographs the Southern French region. Thanks to Millie and her beautiful blog, I got curious about shooting Laundry in Menton and South of France and this quick break in the French Riviera left me with a taste for more.

French Riviera

Sivan Askayo-french riviera-1

In May I have traveled to New York. My second home with a Capital H. I’ve stayed in Manhattan for the whole month; catching up with friends and colleagues and visiting all my favorite spots and hang outs. I cannot even described how much I missed the City. At the end of the month I was assigned to shoot a story for Lonely Planet Traveller, describing the top fun things to do in New York. I couldn’t have asked for more! It was a great opportunity to do some of the things I have always wanted to do but never really found the time.

Together with Orla, a fun writer from Lonely Planet Traveller, we cruised the city from Uptown to Downtown, using all sorts of transportation. We found ourselves trying out cocktails at 10 am in the morning (research for the article, mind you) in some of the sleek and chic bars at the Meat Packing District and later on rushing to Coney Island to interview some Circus performers, making sure to come back to the city and take a HipHop Class at Alvin Ailey School (research as well). I am anxious to share some more of my shooting experience but you will have to wait for March 2015 when the article will come out. Please stay tuned. I promise to blog about it in more details.

Apart from capturing Manhattan during sunsets and sunrises, taken from both Midtown and Long Island City, and discovering some of the most stylish secrets bars, I have also spent more time in Bushwick in Brooklyn, documenting some of the coolest street art walls by Bushwick Collective for my Street Art/Graffiti shoots collection. According to Vogue magazine, Bushwick is becoming, if not already, one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world.

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On June 1st, I’ve jumped on the flight that took me from New York to Athens. Spending one night at Semiramis Hotel designed by Karim Rashid and waking up very early in the morning to catch a very early flight to Milos, the southwestern most in the Cyclades group. Milos was another assignment I got to shoot for Lonely Planet Traveller and it was such an educational experience.  I have paired up with Duncan, a well travelled writer, who was interviewing some of the locals and together we documented their lives on that volcanic island.

One of my most memorable experience was not caught ‘on-film’. It was a Friday night, the last day before heading back to Tel Aviv. I was spending two days in the scenic fishermen village, Klima. My house was literally on the water and I could hear the waves while I was in bed. I was drinking my morning coffees and my evening wine with my neighbors; locals fishermen who hardly speak English. We communicated mostly with smiles and with gestures such as pouring wine and eating greek cheese.

Lonely Planet’s story is coming out this Summer and I promise to blog about it in more details once it is published. All I can say is that it is going to be a great and colorful story. I am really curious to see it on print.

Milos Greece

Sivan Askayo-Milos-1

I know it sounds very hectic, but for me, that was the way to go. I like it sometimes when my life are on the move.

I have stayed two weeks in Tel Aviv and at the end of June I have decided to escape the humidity and get some Scandic vibe in Copenhagen and Stockholm. My mom has always wanted to go so it was a good reason for me to travel again.

Ever since Noma was chosen as the best restaurant in the World, and WallPaper magazine named the Danes as the most beautiful people, it seems that Copenhagen got her groove back, and no wonder it is considered one of the coolest city in Europe. Talking about WallPaper magazine, Copenhagen is one of these places that look like exactly taken from the magazine’s pages.

We spent four days in Copenhagen, exploring the Danish Design Scene, the Nordic Cuisine, and some unique museums that left us in awe. We also got a glimpse inside Hotel d’Angleterre and had lunch in its Michelin Star’s restaurant.

Copenhagen was great and welcomed us with warm weather and long daylight time. It didn’t get dark before midnight, so I had more time to shoot.

Copenhagen

Copenhagen

After less than one hour flight we found ourselves in Stockholm, the Venice of the Scandic part of Europe.

It was in Stockholm when we changed roles and my mom was the impatient teenager who was anxious to visit the ABBA museum while I was waiting for her outside. The weather was a bit on the grey-rainy side, but Stockholm is such a beautiful city; a mix of modern design, cobblestone streets, medieval atmosphere (mostly in Gamla Stan area) and everyone is wearing H&M. I didn’t have any previous knowledge about Stockholm, to be honest. I was mostly following an article I read in Travel+Leisure few months before my visit, which directed me to the most stylish locations.

The highlight of my visit, which is highly recommended, not only for photographers, was Fotografiska Museum. It is located in a former customs house in Sodermalm and is showing work of photographers around the World. It has a great book shop and an amazing view from the third floor.

Another great thing about Stockholm, which matched well me and my mom’s personality, was the Swedish love for Coffee, or in other words, their Fika. Sort of like Starbucks coffee in every street corner in New York, same as in Stockholm.

Stockholm

Sivan Askayo-stockholm-1

In the first week of August I have traveled to Provence with a good a friend of mine who is the perfect partner for any Travel spontaneous decision. The only thing that guided my choice to start at Marseille was MUCEM and the fact that Marseille was chosen as the European Culture Capital for the year of 2013. We stayed in Marseille only one night and then we rented a car and traveled to Cassis, which was just magical with its turquoise color water (definitely I should go back) and the hidden Calanque. We took a boat ride to see three Calanques de Cassis and I got tempted to jump off the boat into the water.

From there we drove to Arles, where we followed the steps of Vincent Van Gogh . We saw Cafe Van Gogh, this is the Cafe than Van Gogh painted in The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum at night and the hospital where Van Gogh was taken after cutting off a portion of his ear. Throughout this trip I was in search of Lavender fields. I was happy to finally find them in Saint-Rémy de Provence, once I have visited the Saint Paul Asylum, where Van Gogh was hospitalized. Not once when I look at a painting in a museum, I wonder to myself how do life look like in these locations. Visiting Saint Remy de Provence was a great opportunity to see what inspired Van Gogh’s painting and what did he see around him.

Note to self: Keep taking trips following the lives of your favorite Artists.

Provence

Sivan Askayo-provence-1

Since I didn’t have enough of Paris in March (I never have enough of Paris actually) I booked another last minute flight to Paris at the end of September. It was originally to shoot the scenes of Fashion Week in Paris but I ended up mostly catching up with my friends and colleagues who live there. Coincidence or not, related or not, I have spent some time over coffee and wine with three Aussies photographers who I admire their work; Millie Brown who came back to Paris for fashion week, Carina Okula who I adore her work and sensitivity and Carla Coulson, who is such an inspiration for me.

I’ve spent some time with Gail from PerfectlyParis, who I became friends with after I have stayed in one of her apartments in Paris few years ago and photographed Chef Constance and her adorable baby in their cozy apartment. I jumped on a Culinary tour Baguette to Bistro, discovered some new cafes, ate a lot of cheese and most of all, enjoyed my friends’ company.

Paris

Paris

So the year is not over yet, and I’m trying to squeeze the last few months of it. In October I was a sent by Conde Nast Traveller Magazine to shoot a story in Antwerpen. It was my second time around in this fashionable city, and it was fun coming back and visiting some of the locations I have discovered at the first time, but this time of shooting was quite intense. Tight on a deadline, I managed to shoot more than 20! locations in 48 hours, making sure I cross off all the locations on the photography’s brief, knowing I don’t have a second chance to shoot it (Tight schedule, remember?)

As small as it is, Antwerpen doesn’t stop to amaze me. Shooting some of the most popular and high end restaurants, capturing delicious dishes which are kind of complicated to shoot and dealing with some of the top chefs, was a great learning experience. The Antwerpen story is coming out to print this Summer and I promise to write about it in more details.

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And now it is already the second week of January, trying to get used to Two Thousand Fifteen. I already have few assignments booked and some new locations to travel to. As much as I am anxious to stamp my passport and jet-set the Globe, I am trying to breath in, enjoy the present and see what happens.

Have a Happy, Healthy and Well-Travelled Year.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

Featured in Conde Nast Traveller, December Holiday Issue

 
 

New York, Snow, December, Holiday Issue

So excited to have one of my favorite snow images featured as a double spread opener for the Holiday story ‘New York, New Traditions’ in Conde Nast Traveller, December Holiday Issue. Conde Nast Traveller is one of the leading Travel magazines in the US and the World.

This image is part of a series of snow images I took during the winter of 2009.  It was a snowy morning weekend when kids just want to go out and play with their slides in the park. I was coming out of the gym on 63rd and Central Park West and started to walk home. (I always walk along the Park). I’ve noticed the kids and their parents, and of course, the colorful clothes. I didn’t have my camera with me so I walked home (Thank God I live 3 blocks away from the Park), I dropped my gym bag in my apartment and grabbed my camera. When I got back to the park I was happy to discover more kids with more colorful winter clothes playing outdoors. I liked how the colors just popped out in the whiteness of the snow. The series of these snow images became one of my favorites.

“…Who can resist a holiday season in New York? Certainly not us (nor millions of tourists, for that matter). It’s when the city is at its buoyant best, when everything seems most shimmering and magical. In honor of our favorite time of year, we rounded up the places you’ll want to visit after the places you came to visit. So welcome to our city- because this month, it’s your city too…”

…Let’s face it-If you’re in New York during the holidays, you’re going to find yourself doing one of the things every tourist does. You (or someone in your crew) will want to try out the ice-skating rink at Rockefeller Center. You’ll go to The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. You won’t be able to resist the sparkling Christmas tree in Washington Square Park. Nor should you. After all, Christmas in New York is all about these beloved traditions, for tourists and, yes, us locals as well. But we wanted to give you some traditions you’ll love as much as the old ones. And so we opened our little black books to share the restaurants, bars, best-kept secrets, and moments we know you’ll adore, whether it’s the oysters-and stout happy hour at the John Dory Oyster Bar (one of the city’s best deals, and just steps from Macy’s gloriously vibrant windows) or the perfect cozy place to rest your feet (with a martini, of course) after an always-awe inspiring (and always exhausting) day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. All you need is a good pair of shoes, a good deal of stamina…and this guide. Who knows? You may even see one of us right there with you….

If you don’t have a chance to grab a hard copy of Conde Nast Traveller, here is the article on line.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

New Yorker for a Day, My Turn

 
 

New Yorker for a Day, New York, West Village

Over a year ago, I have launched a new photography service for my clients called ‘New Yorker for a Day’. 

The service was mostly targeted to tourists who visited New York City and wanted to have a collection of high quality- fashion-New York style- images to take with them back home. The ‘New Yorker for a Day’ became quite a success and I got calls and requests from people all over the Globe. I was even mentioned in a magazine in Australia!. Among my clients were French girls who came to New York to celebrate a Birthday, a newly wed couple (He is Israeli, she is Swedish) who visited New York and he surprised her with that session. A bride to be who got it as a gift from one of her NY’s friends, a woman who came to New York with her teenager daughter and many more who just wanted to have fun and get a memorable and different souvenir from the city.

People really loved it and in the first opportunity I had, I offered it in Paris and shot ‘Parisian for a Day’ 

I am a true believer that as a photographer, if I want to give my clients a better service and connect with them in a more professional level, I’d better go through the ‘New Yorker for a Day’ myself. If I be in front of the camera and not behind it, as I usually am, I will be able to direct/connect with my clients better.

That was when I asked a good friend of mine and a talented photographer Olga Miranova to take pictures of me in my favorite neighborhood, the West Village and walk in the pictorial streets I usually hang out such as Morton, Hudson, Charles and Perry.

Here is the ‘New Yorker for a Day’ my turn…

 

New Yorker for a Day, New York, West Village

New Yorker for a Day, New York, West Village

New Yorker for a Day, New York, West Village

New Yorker for a Day, New York, West Village

New Yorker for a Day, New York, West Village

New Yorker for a Day, New York, West Village

New Yorker for a Day, New York, West Village

New Yorker for a Day, New York, West Village

New Yorker for a Day, New York, West Village

New Yorker for a Day, New York, West Village

New Yorker for a Day, New York, West Village

New Yorker for a Day, New York, West Village

New Yorker for a Day, New York, West Village

New Yorker for a Day, New York, West Village

New Yorker for a Day, New York, West Village

 
 
 
 
 

EatWith Me, You and Everyone Else

 
 

What if a fashion student from Brooklyn, a web developer from San Francisco, a videographer from Zurich, a Brazilian couple from Rio, a Brazilian couple who lives in Toronto and an Israeli photographer who lives in New York, all sit around one table for a Saturday brunch in a cute little apartment in the Lower East Side? It might sound like a beginning of a joke, but at the same time, it is a very possible situation, thanks to EatWith.

If you didn’t hear the latest news, EatWith is definitely IT.

Founded and started in Israel, and now rapidly spreading to Spain, Brazil, Italy and New York, EatWith is like the Airbnb but for food. As their statement says: ‘It is a global community that invites you to dine in homes around the World…connect with amazing hosts, share stories and unforgettable experiences, and enjoy delicious homemade cuisine’ 

As a travel photographer, I always prefer to walk in the less traveled paths. (This is when and where I get most of my best shots). And I have also been a fond of connecting with locals and experience their city through their eyes and daily habits. As the famous phrase guides me: When in Rome do as the Romans do….

Thanks to EatWith, I know that the next time I visit Barcelona and want to have original Tapas on an open terrace, I can easily book it here, or if I am in Amsterdam and want to have a special dinner cooked by a professional chef, I can book it here. The next time I be in Lisbon for a shoot and feel like having an old school Portuguese lunch, I can book it here. The options and the variety are almost endless…you see what I mean.

Before I tell you more about my recent Middle Eastern Brunch with a Hummus Master in the Lower East Side last Saturday, I have a confession to make; I know the people who run EatWith. And I know how hard they work to make this global community successful, professional and tasty.

Maya, who is a good friend of mine, joined EatWith group as the VP Product Developer right from the start. In fact, as a foodie, Maya used to cook special dinners for her friends and gradually turned these dinners into a networking get-together and raising money for a good cause. In one of her dinners, Guy Michlin and Shemer Schwartz, EatWith founders, were among the guests. They heard about Maya’s dinners and wanted to meet her in person. It took them one cooked meal to ask Maya to join their team.

Through Maya, I was introduced to Guy. I actually met Guy in Rome for the first time. I was there for a shoot and he was in Italy to recruit hosts. I had the opportunity to hear from Guy himself how did it all start. You can read all about Guy’s story here.

In one of my recent visits to Tel Aviv, I had the opportunity to join one of EatWith dinners. It was nice to see how strangers enjoyed sitting around one table and sharing dinner. ‘Well, of course it is going to work’ I thought to myself, ‘Because Israelis are so easy going and open’. But last Saturday I was so happy to discover that this concept of sitting around one table and sharing a meal with strangers, is quite successful even outside the borders of Israel, and in New York as well. I’m quite sure that if the typical New Yorker who can be sometimes skeptical, invites strangers to his home and cook for them lunch or dinner, than this EatWith vision to bring people together one meal at a time is definitely working.

Bon Appetit!

 
 
 
 
 

Window or Aisle: Guillaume Gaudet

 
 

Guillaume Gaudet, NY, Manhattan, Noir

I don’t quite remember how and when exactly did I find Guillaume Gaudet‘s page on facebook, but I remember very well how much I loved what I saw and how I found a close correlation between his images of New York and the images I took. In some pictures, it seemed as we were both at the same location almost at the same time, pointing our cameras. I was quite happy to discover that there was another photographer out there who sees similar things to what I see and vice versa.

Even today, few months after I have contacted Guillaume for the first time and met him in some occasions, there are times when I upload a picture on my facebook and Guillaume emails me back and says: ‘Funny, Sivan…but I have a similar picture from that same place…’ 

When I first saw Guillaume’s pictures, I knew I would love to shoot with him. I love to shoot with my local colleagues. It is fun and inspiring. But Guillaume was super busy and I was away, so the first time we met was only this mid June. I learned that beside shooting the same locations in New York, we might be sharing a similar path: We both left the Corporate world and followed our passion of Photography.

My favorite series of New York is NY Street Noir. It makes me want to shoot more Black and White. …’NY Street Noir is an ongoing series of street photography in New York City. I select photos and convert them in black and white when I feel that there’s a strong contrast of light and shadows or because the subject is better shown in a simpler way rather than in color, which could be a bit distracting. It’s pure street photography, moments of life in the Empire City caught by my eye and camera…’

Following Guillume’s work really makes you feel you are right there, in the moment. Take a look at his website, facebook page and blog, Shooting the Days.

I’m very excited to share with you more of Guillume’s NY Street Noir.

Merci Guillume!

Where are you from? France. I was almost born in Madrid. Then moved every 2 years until I was 15 years old. I lived in Germany and Argentina. It makes you more open-minded and keen to meet with other people. I just regret not having youth buddies.

Where did you study photography? I’ve never studied photography. I took my first photo class 2 months ago. It was a 2-weekend course about studio lightning. I’ve learned photography through magazines, books and on the web. Everything is out there for free. I just wish I had been able to study it and have more confidence from the beginning. I’ve shot a lot without being sure of myself at first.

What made you want to learn it? I moved to NY and I fell in love with the City. Being jobless at that time gave me a lot of time to shoot. When your hobby is your main occupation, you become more serious about it. I would spend more time editing my pictures, learning new stuff, etc.

If you weren’t a photographer what would you do? I’ve worked in real estate, finance and communications before becoming a photographer. It’s my fourth career. I’m not planning to change again. It’s my last one, for good. I never knew what I wanted to do before becoming a photographer. Now, I know. 

Where do you get your inspiration from? Hard to tell. When I’m walking on the street, I look around and sometimes something catches my eye. It can be a person, a light, a shape, etc. I rarely know what I’m going to shoot. Except maybe for portraiture or lifestyle. I look at other photographers’ work, I see how and what they shoot.

What do you mostly love shooting? Environmental portraiture. People in a nice setting. If you have a very nice background and you put a cool or good-looking person in it, that’s the perfect picture.

How do you usually approach a new project? It depends on the project. If I would get assigned by a magazine, for example, I presume that I would do a thorough research to know where I have to go rather than wander and waste my time.

What are you working on right now? A lot of different things. Shooting at a palace hotel in NY, shooting a wedding, shooting fashion/lifestyle portraiture for my portfolio. Diversity is good, you never get bored.

Window or Aisle? Window for a flight during the day with nice views, aisle for a flight at night

Guillaume Gaudet, NY Noir, Window or Aisle

Guillaume Gaudet, NY Noir, Window or Aisle

Guillaume Gaudet, NY Noir, Window or Aisle

Guillaume Gaudet, NY Noir, Window or Aisle

Guillaume Gaudet, NY Noir, Window or Aisle

Guillaume Gaudet, NY Noir, Window or Aisle

Guillaume Gaudet, NY Noir, Window or Aisle

 
 
 
 
 

Let’s Travel Somewhere: New York

 
 

Let's Travel Somewhere, New York

I am very excited to be featured for the second time around on one of my favorite Travel sites, Let’s Travel Somewhere, curated and founded by the travel photographer Nisa Mayer. My first story was on Vietnam, and this time it is all about New York.

“As someone who travels for work, I write mostly about places I visit and less about the place where I have been living for the last 11 years; New York. Sometimes, it is hard to look at a place you know so well with different eyes. But New York is so dynamic and surprising that every borough, neighborhood, street or even a door, can be a great opportunity for an interesting shot. 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: Beside packing your camera gear, pack also your most comfortable shoes; Because Manhattanites may not nap much, but they sure do walk a lot.

As a photographer based in New York, the streets of this city have always been a great inspiration for my photography: whether it’s the architecture, the city reflections on windows, the stream of energy in the streets, the people walking in it, the titanic billboards and advertising ads, the colorful murals and the graffiti on the walls. It all inspires me.”

To see more of my New York images and read more about it, please click on this link.

And as I said in a previous post about ‘Let’s Travel Somewhere’… the size (of the images) DOES matter.

 
 
 
 
 

Real Men wear Pink; meet Karim Rashid

 
 

Karim Rashid, Design, Lifestyle

When I was writing my previous post about the Nhow Hotel in Berlin, I mentioned that I was always curious to know what does Karim Rashid eat for breakfast that fuels his ideas and inspiration. What I didn’t know was that a week after publishing this post, I would be sitting in Karim Rashid’s studio in Chelsea, asking him this question in person (!).

Apparently, I am not the only one who google-search her name. Karim Rashid does the same. He stumbled upon my blog and saw the pictures I took of Nhow Hotel and asked a permission to post them on his fan page. How could I refuse to such a flattering thing?

‘Don’t ask him why he wears Pink most of the time’ his lovely assistant Jessica advised me when I got to the studio. ‘It’s just because almost every journalist asks him that’, she smiled. I made a note to myself not to mention Pink clothes, but eventually, even though Karim was wearing all white, I used the Pink Clothes-thing just to break the ice.

‘Well, I believe that Real Men wear Pink’ Karim said, and in a way, he had a point. He sat on a yellow chair right under a painted portrait of his, while I was standing behind his pink (!) desk and pointed the camera at him.

As a photographer, when I am taking someone’s portrait, I always want to make that person feel comfortable and at ease (because it shows right away in the picture). Therefore, as much as I can sometimes get nervous myself, I always try to start with a small talk or a funny story to share. ‘So I really want to know what do you eat for breakfast’ I asked Karim, ‘Just to know what fuels your brain in the morning for inspiration’

‘Well, my breakfast is quite boring, I eat oatmeal and fruits, nothing special…But I get my inspiration from almost everything. Since I was a little kid I used to observe what was around me and constantly draw. The ability to look at things different than other people…you Sivan, are probably aware of it yourself  because you are a photographer’

So this is how the interview started…smooth with a mutual artist bonding and a clear understanding that we both look at things different. (note: part of the interview was done on the spot, some details were added afterwards via emails)

Karim Rashid, Design, Lifestyle

What is your approach when you design a hotel? With hotels I design from micro to macro (from the lamp to the bed to the interior to the architecture). I love the larger experiential impact a hotel can have on people lives. With hospitality design or public space, I know that masses of people have access to my designs, and they aren’t just looking at it, they are physically immersing themselves inside my concepts. As a designer you must learn to collaborate. As you can see, I try to experiment with every project. It is not the form that is primary -It is the idea, the concept. I work with the strengths of the client, with their vision and location.

How do you start a new project? I perpetually observe and analysis and dissect everything around me in our built environments. My discipline is to absorb everything I can about a particular subject, and then I sketch for hours developing ideas and most important I think about the human experience, about the social behavior of that particular scenario. Every project is different and usually the process is also. I fill sketch books weekly, and then I bring my designs back to the studio. My team creates 3D renders of my ideas, does research with me on materials, production processes, and then we refine the concepts based on all the plethora of criteria, be it social, economic, or technological issues until  my vision is realized.

Where do you get your inspiration from? I learned from a young age to be highly perceptive of our built environment. I drew constantly as a child and trained myself to see everything and to see what most people may not see. Hence when you see everything around you, then everything is inspiring and I become critical of every aspect of daily life. Also each project stems from its own inspiration. Nhow hotel Berlin was inspired by location, and by music. Berlin embodies the spirit of the underground, the dark school of electronic music, the harsh yet intellectual environment, the massiveness, and the desirous need for artistic pursuit. Semiramis was inspired by the sensual Greek Light – so romantic, so beautiful.

What is the difference in designing a hotel than any other building? I love the larger experiential impact a hotel can have on people lives. With hospitality design or public space, I know that masses of people have access to my designs, and they aren’t just looking at it, they are physically immersing themselves inside my concepts. With hotels I design from micro to macro (from the lamp to the bed to the interior to the architecture). Sometimes I design the name, the logo, and brand identity. Of course I cannot touch every experience with a condo, office, or other building and it is a longer more permeant relationship with the user. Also the interesting phenomena of hotels is that I believe one should have a temporary experience that they would never have anywhere else, so there is an opportunity to create a new inspiring experience, like theatre or entertainment, and to propel people into living in a space that stye would have never experienced at home or other places.

What are the next trends in hotel design? (in general) I prefer design that transcends fashionable trends and to work towards and searching for new vernaculars that echo out Technorganic digital world. Just the five major features of the perfect hotel –  a real contemporary well designed room that is seamless (perfect lighting, perfect comfort, etc), A heightened sensory experience, sustainable construction and operations, total seamless technology, nude sunbathing deck, and a really well considered and designed gym and spa.

Do you have  a favorite hotel you prefer to stay in? (not necessarily one you designed) I have stayed in so many hotels and few are really memorable. I do like Unique hotel in San Paolo – The round 2 meter porthole windows have this beautiful unconventional way of seeing the city from room view, like looking out of a big telescope, while the façade has of course some bizarre nautical semantic. The upside-down half pie clad in green copper (locally they refer to it as a watermelon slice) is really, well, unique. What is so fabulous is the end rooms have curved floors that ride up to infinity, giving this sense of nirvana. I feel like I am in heaven. The lobby is a phenomenal grandiloquent space, and the landscaping is reductive yet poetic. My friend Ruy Ohtake created a fantastic project. Hotel Unique also has a floating glass framed rooftop pool with breathtaking views of Sao Paulo.

What is your motto in life?  Globalove

What is your motto in work? I think my mantra is to inspire people through my design and my words

What drives you forward? (not necessarily work related) I have so many things I want to do like own a fashion clothing line, open an organic café, design a private house, design more buildings, design an electric car, etc.

Who and what inspires you? Is there someone in specific? Everything and everyone inspires me. I see beauty in everything!

What kind of advice will you give a young designer? Talent and hard work is the way to succeed.I learned that design is not about a form or shape, but it is a cultural critique, a cultural shaper, a faction of social, political, and economic life. Design is a lifetime experience so learn to learn, and work for others to get as many experiences as you can. Diligence and perseverance is a necessity.

Looking back at your career, would you do something different? I would have found my true self sooner.

If you weren’t a designer… what would you be? When I was a child I wanted to be a mathematician if I was not a designer, but now I would consider being a musician or a motivational speaker or a stand up comic – haha

What do you wish for yourself for the future? I have so much I want to do. I want to design an electric car, low-income housing, a museum, more hotels, art galleries, a fashion line under my name, an eyeglass line, a shoe line, etc. I think every artist, designer, always wants to contribute something to culture and make an original mark.

 
 
 
 
 

Naomi Ben Shahar Apt in Design Sponge

 
 

It all happened very fast. I have just finished shooting my friend’s Naomi Ben Shahar’s beautiful apartment in Chelsea, when I suggested her that I submit some of the images to Design Sponge. The day after, I got an email back from Amy (the managing editor) who said she would LOVE to feature it in the next Sneak Peek column.

I just love Naomi’s apartment. Very clean lines, big windows, lots of light (good for a photographer’s apartment such as Naomi) and her Art is on the walls. Naomi writes a blog about New York, targeted for Hebrew speakers who come to visit. She knows everything about the city, and she knows almost everyone. Take a look at her blog here and here.

You can see and read more about Naomi and her design choices, in Design Sponge Sneak Peek here.

Thank you Amy and Grace!

Here are some of my favorite images from Naomi’s apartment.

Naomi Ben Shahar, Design Sponge, NY, Interior

Naomi Ben Shahar, Design Sponge, NY, Interior

Naomi Ben Shahar, Design Sponge, NY, Interiors

 
 
 
 
 

Today, 11 years ago…

 
 

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

xox

Sivan

…this is my New York through the years…

New York, ManhattanNew York, Manhattan

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