I met Janko at a dinner party in Manhattan and discovered he was a man of many talents and hobbies: journalist, photographer, writer, translator, sailor…and the author of “Point of View New York City”. I bought a few copies and was impressed by the unique concept of this book, so I asked Janko to sit down with me to tell me more.
E: Janko, could you tell us about you and how you got to New York?
J: I was born and raised in Germany, where I worked as a journalist, then one day I fell in love with a native New Yorker. We got married and in 2006, I moved to Manhattan, to live with her. My English wasn’t fluent so I couldn’t work as a journalist anymore and had to work with a different kind of language, which took me to my hobby of photography.
E: How was the idea of the book born?
J: During my first years here, I spent quite a lot of time walking around different neighborhoods, exploring, always carrying a camera, mostly to find my way around. One day, I realized my perception of the city was different from my wife’s, Kate, a born New Yorker. I was attracted to the visuals the city had to offer. I was making my personal map of New York.
E: I like that expression! How would you define your personal map of the city?
J: There is a mix of locations which are part of my daily life as well as locations where I probably would get only once or twice to, but chose to include them as an integral part of the city. My interests are in art, history, architecture…so all that contributes to my personal map.
E: What was the next step in the making of the book?
J: Going through my stock of photos of the city, I had to decide which photos would qualify for the book. The guessing game is built on the assumption that all these locations are clearly identifiable as only one location in the city. I then scattered the photos on the ground, climbed on a ladder and chose the photos by color, shape, similarities and contradictions, materials, symbolism, light and absence of light…I organized them by pairs until I was happy with the flow.
E: Your book, which can be described as a game for tourists and New Yorkers alike, encourages the reader to guess what’s on the photo, and if he doesn’t, he will find useful and well documented information at the end of the book. That’s brilliant and to be honest, I didn’t recognize most of the pictures and learnt a lot!
J: Yes, this is for all New York lovers, whether they live here or not. The concept of this book is to encourage people to see things from a different angle or to go out and see for themselves. We all have our own perception of things, our own map of the city, and that’s very inspirational to me.
E: Did you make a point of going to all the boroughs?
J: I tried to pick at least one place in each borough, but this book is very Manhattan-centric. That’s for two reasons: one I live in Manhattan, so it’s closer to my everyday life but I also had in mind tourists. who usually want to explore mostly Manhattan.
E: I think this is a wonderful gift idea. Janko, thank you for your time and all the best for your future projects.
J: Thank you Evelyne.
To find out more about Janko Puls and his book, and where to buy it, please visit: