Donna Dotan‘s series, “Reflections From Above,” features graphic, colorful photos, shot from atop a variety of New York skyscrapers, looking down the side of buildings at the bustling world below. The reflection in the glass creates a symmetrical NYC scene, and offers a unique look at the city that is likely the most photographed metro area in the world.
Donna is an architectural photographer and started the series “accidentally” during a shoot in an apartment on the 80th floor at the Mandarin Oriental in Time Warner Center. The views from the apartment were magnificent, overlooking Central Park and Columbus Circle.
I really wanted to get a shot of Columbus Circle, so I wrapped my camera strap around my arm about four times and stuck the camera out through this opening. What I saw was truly incredible and a vision that would inspire this series. I could only point the camera straight down because of the limited opening, and so half of my photo was the view of Columbus Circle, while the other half was its reflections in the glass building that I was in. This photo became the first of what I knew would be a lifelong series.
Donna enjoys the treasure hunt aspect of the project: if she’s in a tall building made of glass, she’s looking for a unique image. Being aware of her surroundings and searching for spectacular reflections is an essential part of her process, but not all of the photos come easily. During a shoot on the rooftop of a 60 story building, Donna’s husband and business partner, Brian Podnos, insisted that she try to do a reflection photo, despite how scary looking down was.
We were a few minutes into twilight at this point, so I had to shoot at a pretty high ISO with the camera handheld on live view in order to see what I was shooting. My camera was literally hanging over the edge of an 800-foot-tall building! When we saw the shot, we were both so excited about how beautiful the reflection was and I was very thankful that he pushed me to do it! Sometimes the best opportunities can be the scariest, but fear should never stop you from capturing a great moment.
Donna’s project was perfectly suited for a publicity pitch. There are loads of blogs and publications that need a steady flow of content for their readers, and Donna’s pictures provided the kind of eye candy with a back story that those blogs are looking for. So when I reached out to an editor at Petapixel to see if he had any interest, he quickly replied that he loved the series, elaborating that the photos were simple, well composed and, most of all, “not something I’ve seen before.” I sent some more information about Donna and the project, and within two days, the article was live on their blog.
The article was a hit on Petapixel’s social media too, with 31 shares and 149 likes on Facebook (so far):
The attention Donna got from Petapixel generated a number of inquiries about her work, and her web traffic soared to about 200 visitors a day. The story has also been picked up by Vice’s The Creators Project blog, Gizmodo, Mashable, ABC News, Distractify, Design You Trust and more than a dozen other blogs and online publications.
If you’d like to learn more about Donna and her ongoing project, visit her website. If you’re a photographer and you’d like help pitching a project to publications, check out our publicity consulting services.