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 (2012, 2013, 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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…’
I’m very excited to share with you more of Guillume’s NY Street Noir.
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
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.
10PMand 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
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
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.