There are beautiful pictures to be taken in the middle of the urban jungle, says
New York journalist and Instant Collection Contributor Erik Larson – and you don’t need a DSLR to capture them.

Erik spoke to Fotolia about capturing the beauty of the city on an iPhone 5 and using the Fotolia Instant Collection app to sell his pictures.

My shoes on 50th Street - Erik Larsson

My shoes on 50th Street – Erik Larson

Fotolia: Where were you when you took this image? It looks very spontaneous.

Erik Larson: I was on 50th Street in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, walking to work. I didn’t plan the photo, but it wasn’t quite spontaneous.

I’m always on the lookout for puddles that will reflect an interesting building, and I often incorporate my feet into the picture.

I get a lot of strange looks from passersby when I take these pics.

Fo: How did you hear about Fotolia’s Instant Collection and what was your experience like with the app?

EL: I heard about Fotolia from my cousin, a wedding photographer in Seattle, who follows me on Instagram. He suggested the app as a way to make money from my longtime hobby.

The app seemed like a great idea, and was easy to use, so I submitted a few pics. The shoes/puddle image sold right away; I was intrigued.

Fo: What inspires you to take photographs?

EL: My greatest inspiration over the years has been traveling and capturing moments I know I’ll probably never see again. Like many people, I’m also inspired by beautiful architecture, unusual lighting, and the unexpected cultural elements of places I’m visiting.

I’ve always enjoyed photos of reflections, for example, because the images are unexpected — people don’t always understand how I got the image or believe it’s real.

Fo: What is your favorite subject for photographs?

EL: I love to photograph puddle reflections. They are simple subjects that create complex, unpredictable and interesting imagery. My puddle images really seem to capture the imagination of people who see them and leave comments, which is a real thrill for me.

We usually observe puddles just long enough to jump over them, drive around them, or complain about them, but these days I’m drawn to them and can usually tell from several feet away whether I should bother pulling out my phone. The conditions have to be just right, and there has to be something interesting to reflect.

It’s a style that developed for me on Instagram because the photos would be nearly impossible to take with a conventional camera.

Erik Larsson

Erik Larson, rising star

Fo: Has your work as a journalist influenced your creativity?

EL: As a financial news journalist I need to be creative to make stories interesting, and I like my photos to tell a story the same way I tell stories with my words. The difference is that my journalism is fact-based and doesn’t include my opinions or world view.

My photographs are the opposite, and while both communicate with strangers, photography comes more naturally and brings me genuine joy.

Fo: Would you recommend the Instant Collection app to others?

EL: I’m totally new to stock photography and I had never sold photos before, but from my experience till now has been great – my images make sales every 2-3 days and I’m looking forward to converting these credits into cash.

Fo: What is it about New York City that you love?

EL: I love everything about New York — even the stuff that drives me crazy sometimes. My favorite aspect of the city is the diversity and the way it draws creative and interesting people here from all over the world.

Fo: Where is your favorite spot to take pictures?

EL: My favorite spots for photography are always changing, but in recent years it’s just the sidewalks on my way to work, or when I’m going to other parts of the city during the day for meetings. That’s when I see the puddles I’m currently photographing. They’re just in the gutters.

Fo: If you had to choose your favorite image that you’ve uploaded to the Instant Collection, which is it and why?

EL: You picked my favorite! But I’ll be uploading more soon, so I’m sure that’ll change soon enough.

Discover more of Erik’s unique “puddle visions” on Twitter, Instagram, and Fotolia.