Fly High Above NYC

Fly High Above NYC

Although the Big Apple is the most photographed city on Earth, Paul Seibert’s unique outlook on our hometown is sure to captivate even the most seasoned New Yorker. Seibert is an NYC-based photographer who specializes in stunning aerial shots taken hovering 1,300 feet above the ground. Read on and learn how the photographer developed his distinct perspective and aesthetic, all while building awareness of his work via Instagram.

How did you first got involved in photography? What sparked your initial interest in the medium? 
As a teenager, I took a year of manual film photography, but the moment in my adult life that spawned this whole career was a trip out to New Mexico with my wife using a point-and-shoot camera. I was so enamored with the landscape and the incredible contrast in culture compared to the New York metropolitan area. After going over the images upon returning, I found some that were decent and I started taking my small Canon Powershot everywhere interesting that I was going, becoming entirely focused on capturing images. After some time, I brought those images to be evaluated by the only photographer that I knew, and after some technical constructive criticism, I revealed that I was shooting with a point-and-shoot. She told me to, “go get a full frame camera, and learn everything you can.” And that’s exactly what I did.

How has New York City specifically impacted and affected your photographic eye? 
New York is amazing. The people, the architecture, the streets. If I didn’t live 15 minutes from the most photographed city in the world, I would most likely be a landscape photographer. I love nature, and I love being outdoors. I was enamored with how the natural world interacted visually with the skyline, and that has been my “balance” if you will. Learning about weather and the alignment of the sun or moon has helped me incorporate both the natural with the man-made world.

Your aerial shots of New York City are breathtaking. Tell us about your first shoot in a helicopter. 
My first shoot in a helicopter was with a great photographer and friend of mine. He was doing a photoshoot for an aviation/aerial photography magazine and asked me to capture images of him in the other helicopter. I had never been in a helicopter but by the time we landed, I was fully hooked on the experience. Seeing NYC firsthand out of a doors-off helicopter is one of the most incredible and equally intimate experiences I’ve had with NYC.

What are some of the best aerial vantage points when hovering over New York City? 
There are so many great vantage points from above. I recommend picking your favorite landmark and starting there. Some overall amazing viewing points are just south of the tip of Lower Manhattan. We call it “The Money Shot” – mostly because you see the curve of the island, the financial district, and both the Hudson and East River. Looking south over Central Park and down through Midtown is also an incredibly popular view. I really love looking down on Columbus Circle – it’s one of my favorite spots to shoot over the city.

Instagram plays a huge role in discovering emerging talent. How valuable has the platform been for you and your photographic career? 
Instagram has helped my professional development most. Being able to access knowledge and experiences of other photographers is the most valuable asset that Instagram has provided me. The connections I’ve made through the platform, that at first were with strangers, has now collectively evolved to become a global network of people I can reach out to and rely on for knowledge, inspiration or even a couch to crash on. It’s been invaluable.

What do you find different or special about living in NYC and what do you try to communicate about the city through your photography? 
I feel like my main goal is to incorporate the natural world into my images and to showcase how the jagged skyline of NYC is lit by the ever-changing movement of the sun, the clouds, and wind. These extraordinary moments I strive to capture I’ve dubbed “Everyday Miracles.” I encourage everyone that is living in New York to stop, look up, and to be a witness to what may otherwise pass you by. Appreciate the things that are out of our control, and take a moment to reflect in this extremely fast paced metropolis.

For those of us without access to helicopters and drones, what are some of your favorite accessible views in the city? 
There are a number of places to get some great views of the city. One World Trade Observatory, The Empire State Building, and 30 Rockefeller Center are some tourist favorites. Hudson Yards will have a very large, and I believe tallest observation deck in NYC, when it opens, and a different angle to see the city from. There are so many incredible spots to see the skyline in Brooklyn and Queens, and also from the river towns in New Jersey.

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