New York is the most photographed city in the world, from its iconic landmarks and sweeping vistas to the nitty gritty minutiae of everyday street scenes. Especially in this smart phone age, it seems everyone — from amateur to professional, individual to institution — is getting in on the shutterbug game, trying to put their unique spin on scenery that has seen a million flashbulbs (or finger taps). In no particular order, these are a few of our favorites: From skyscrapers to street art, these folks are doing it right.
Humans of New York (@humansofny) Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past four years, you’ve probably heard of Humans of New York, aka Brandon Stanton. What started as a pet project for the photographer — what he describes as an attempt to “create an exhaustive catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants” — has amassed over seven million followers and spun off from a blog into every conceivable social media platform, as well as a gorgeous photo book (and a second one coming Oct. 7 featuring NY’s littlest humans!). Brandon photographs and interviews humans from every borough and walk of life, piecing together a captivating (and ever expanding) portrait of the 8.3 million people who call this crazy metropolis home.
Dave Krugman (@dave.krugman) Dave is part of a rapidly growing wave of Insta-famous photographers who are translating their social media expertise into real world communities, physical exhibitions, and working relationships with some of the City’s most storied institutions. As one of the foremost figures in this movement, Dave has worked with everyone from the Met to the New York Public Library, and was recently profiled in the New York Times. When he isn’t revolutionizing cultural marketing, he can be found sipping craft beer in Bushwick, sometimes with the likes of Zelda and Scout (true story).
Christian Xavier (@cxcart) Born and raised in France, Christian is unabashed in his love for what he dubs “the greatest city on Earth.” Along with Dave, he was one of the earliest members of the NY Instagram community and says the medium has made him “more confidant as an artist.” With beautiful shots of cityscapes and the people that fill them, Christian’s photos tell the story of his deep, abiding love affair with the Big Apple.
Metropolitan Museum of Art (@metmuseum) When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Nothing could be cooler, I thought, than to roam the Met after hours like Claudia and Jamie, stealing pennies from the fountain and sleeping in a centuries-old canopy bed. Now that I’m ever so slightly more grown up, I still find an empty museum pretty damn cool. The Met has done a spectacular job of adapting their marketing strategies for the digital landscape, with fascinating #emptymet shots of the abandoned museum, plus cheeky #tbt’s and behind the scenes shots, showcasing the collection and events that have made them an Institution with a capital I.
Brooklyn Street Art (@bkstreetart) Jaime Rojo combs the streets of Brooklyn for art, tracking the creative spirit and imagination that run wild along the brick walls and concrete pavement of the borough. From soccer players to giraffes to abstract dreamscapes, this account will inspire you to look up and notice the art all around you.
Four & Twenty Blackbirds (@birdsblack) One of the most delicious things to ever come out of Brooklyn, Four & Twenty Blackbirds is the product of fellow NY-expats Emily and Melissa Elsen. The South Dakota sisters have been cooking up good ole-fashioned treats, just the way their Grandma Liz made ‘em, since 2010. Warning: this Instagram may, nope, will definitely make you hungry, and most likely depressed about the non-artisan contents of your pantry.
Jonathan Suarez (@jmsuarez_) Beautifully lit and impeccably composed, Jonathan’s photographs take professional know-how and translate it into the scrollable realm. Expect beautiful cityscapes that will turn even the cloudiest of days into a joyful celebration of the metropolis. Jonathan also excels at nightscapes, each image humming with the life of a city that never sleeps.
Vivienne Gucwa (@travelinglens) While some people use captions for #hashtags or shout-outs to their homies, Vivienne uses them to tell a story. Her poetic musings, combined with her glowing photographs, create a multi-dimensional ode to New York, one which can soon be purchased in book form at a store near you. “After the sun sets for the evening, the city is a symphony of lights reaching their crescendo at the same time as the night pulls itself over the rooftops and skyscrapers below. And if you squint just a little, all of the lights twinkle like fireflies in an urban forest.”
Sylvio Sandino (@sylviosandino) Another photographer/poet of the Insta-realm, Sylvio turns each pic into a vignette, ascribing narratives and philosophical resonance to each pixelated square. The images may be small, their subjects mere strangers passing on the street, but each one shows a lover, a thinker, an interconnected strand of the human web. And Sylvio gives voice to them all. #thesearenotshortstories.
Steven John Irby (@stevesweatpants) Sometimes captions can be poetic. Sometimes they can make us pause, strike a chord in our souls and cause us to reflect on the very nature of human existence. And sometimes, they’re just damn funny. Cootie shots, meatball sauce, and Hulk Hogan’s du rag game are the proposed subjects of Steve’s lovely photographs. Also, he likes sweatpants.
Bonus: Fashion Grandpas (@fashiongrandpas) Grandpas in suits. Grandpas with canes. Grandpas in knee socks, on bikes or lolling about on chaises lounges. It’s the daily dose of dapper octogenarians you didn’t know you were missing. Follow immediately. Your day will be brightened, we swear.