We check in with the amazing photographer Katja Sherlock (Instagram: @NYC) about her perfect spring day in NYC, and how she came to be the world-class photographer admired by over 550,000 followers.
You grew up in Berlin and moved to NYC in 2003. What triggered your move to New York?
My first visit to New York was in 2000 with my friend Susanne. We were here for two weeks and visited every attraction, neighborhood and museum mentioned in our well worn travel guide. We had fun filled days exploring every part of the city and at night we would check out the music venues and bars in the East & West Village. I really enjoyed the music scene and I instantly fell in love with NYC.
On the second last night of my stay, I met a “New Yorker” from Ireland, danced the night away, and chatted until 6am at a diner near Union Square. He suggested that I stay for another 2 weeks and get to know the “real” New York. As luck would have it, I was in a position to do just that. From then on, I would spend all my vacation time – 5 to 6 weeks per year – in New York for the next few years. I had just started a new job working for a global publishing company in Berlin. After a year in the job I asked nicely if they would transfer me to the NYC office. I couldn’t believe my luck when they said yes. A year later I was sitting in a corner office of the Flatiron building, looking outside the window. It was a truly surreal moment.
How did you get involved in photography and Instagram?
I started shooting with a film camera when I was a teenager. I mainly used it when on vacation and for family portraits. Many of my friends were also shooting and developing their own images. It was a costly hobby at the time but it was definitely a great hobby to share with friends, and I learned a lot about basic composition and lighting.
When Instagram came along, I talked about how cool it would be to share images of NYC to inspire others to visit. But honestly, I didn’t really have the time or interest to shoot until after my kids were older and in school. My husband shot most images for the account until then and handed it over to me when it was at 80,000 followers. He’s nice like that. When I started shooting and posting to @nyc, I wanted to include a few regular themes and create more stories around each neighborhood. In general, I’m just trying to show what a regular day around the city looks like.
You shoot a lot with your iPhone. Why is that?
That’s a great question. I suppose it’s the size and convenience of it. I’m currently shooting with the iPhone 6+, and I am so impressed by its capabilities. The iPhone is such a powerful mobile device and it’s the perfect tool for shooting, editing and publishing on the fly. The technology is always improving and every week or so there is some new app that will catch my eye. I love filmmaking, and being able to shoot & edit hyperlapses, slo-motion or regular video quickly is such a joy. This year I’ve also started to shoot with a full frame mirrorless camera and a professional set of lenses. It’s a great re-learning experience for me. I love the challenge of shooting with professional gear again and I’m thrilled with the results so far.
A perfect spring day in NYC looks like what?
Spring is an amazing time in the city. It’s probably my favorite season. It creeps up on you really fast and then just seems to disappear suddenly. I’ve missed many photo opportunities in the past because it goes by so quickly. A perfect day can begin in any neighborhood. I always look for some distinct features of the area I’m in when I’m shooting while at the same time trying to apply specific photo themes I use on my Instagram account: great street corners, a cute restaurant or café, a park or some local shops with character.
Of course, a perfect day in New York City for me starts with a cup of coffee at one of the many great coffee shops. Then, I’d recommend visiting one of the parks. Central Park and Battery Park are two of my favorites.
Central Park pretty much has all you are looking for: it is vast, has beautiful trees and flowers, lakes, and an abundance of musicians and artists. It is also the perfect place to take pictures of cherry blossoms. You’ll find them on the east side of the Boathouse, and at Cherry Hill west of Bethesda Terrace. I’ll head to the park every week during spring to capture some of the changes and I really enjoy spending hours there just strolling around, taking photos, and watching the world go by. This is the place where I like to recharge, and without fail, every time I leave I am.
Battery Park is in Lower Manhattan. It stretches all the way from Tribeca to the southern tip of Manhattan. I love that it is right on the waterfront, and I highly recommend heading over here for sunset. Before or afterwards, grab a cocktail, then go for dinner at one of the great restaurants in Tribeca, the perfect end to the day.