Updated: Oct 8, 2021
Renowned interiors photographer Simon Upton has the enviable job of traveling the world to visit the most beautiful homes and photograph them for magazines. His serenely elegant, beautifully lit photographs are often found in the pages of The World of Interiors, Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, and Vogue. The Englishman has always been inspired by New York City, and he has now published his favorite residences in a new book entitled New York Interiors from Vendome Press.
Featuring the homes of style-makers Aerin Lauder, Hamish Bowles, Michael S. Smith, Steven Gambrel, Stephen Sills, and more, the book celebrates New York creativity and is filled with imaginative design.
Upton recently tore himself away from his country garden at his home in Devon in the south of England, where he lives with his wife and nine-year-old daughter, to talk about his new book over Zoom.
He describes his own home as a renovated and updated 14th-century English longhouse, decorated with a collection of art and textiles gathered from all over the world.
“New York has been incredibly important to me,” Upton says. “New York is the city of aspiration and inspiration. New York is ‘What can we do next?’ It’s that city where things are made and can happen, and that I find hugely inspirational.”
The book honors New York style, in all its variations, from sleekly modern and minimal to richly layered and bohemian. Through his work in New York, Upton has met and befriended talented and innovative decorators, editors, and artists, many of whom are included in the book. “There are so many people with great style in New York who want to make a difference,” he says.
Beyond the great creativity of New York, Upton observes that there is a desire for retreat.
“New York is 'go, go, go' so a lot of people have to balance that with refuge,” he says. “The common thread in New York is home as a haven, more so than say London. In New York, people have made extraordinary apartments in all sort of styles in order to have a refuge from the city.”
Upton’s understated and sophisticated photos, which are characterized by his signature use of natural light, express this feeling of tranquility at home. “The quiet selection of when to photograph and what angles is massively influenced by light, “ says Upton, who will wait patiently for the right play of natural light in an interior.
Upton grew up in the English countryside and went to art school to be a painter before switching to photography. He showed some of his pictures to the staff at The World of Interiors, who encouraged him and eventually gave him an assignment.
“My job is to record an environment I go into, and sometimes the people within it,” he says. “I’m trying to do simple reportage,” he states—but his photographs do more than that; they capture the personality and lifestyle of the homeowner.
The lensman laments that he has not visited New York since the beginning of the pandemic. “I’m missing New York terribly and want to get back,” he says.
Hopefully he will be returning soon and capturing more great New York interiors.